Business tax credits and incentives have been cussed and discussed an awful lot by Oklahoma lawmakers in recent years. State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, has led the (mostly unsuccessful) push to eliminate or reform tax credits that don't provide a benefit for the state.
Dank has good company across the country.
In Maine, a task force will meet to see if $40 million in savings can be found in that state's tax incentives. Otherwise, Maine faces cuts to municipal revenue sharing. The head of the state Senate said it only makes sense to “look at what's working and what's not and align our tax incentives to our economy.”
A study conducted in North Carolina found that several of the state's business-related tax breaks were counterproductive. Lawmakers followed the study's recommendations by eliminating many tax incentives and instead lowering the state's individual, corporate and business tax rates.
A study presented at a recent webinar hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Pew Charitable Trusts showed that results of Minnesota's tax incentive program often weren't as good as advertised. In addition, “incentives sometimes subsidized some businesses that compete with other Minnesota businesses for the same customers and employees,” Stateline.org reported.
New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie recently backed a bill that would consolidate and expand some tax incentive programs, saying it will “keep New Jersey's economy growing and on the right direction.”
Dank is fine with credits that do the same in Oklahoma. “A legitimate tax credit should create or sustain real and lasting jobs,” he said on these pages earlier this year. But for too long, he said, the Legislature has granted credits “that range from the questionable to the outrageous.”
We don't agree with some of Dank's targets for elimination, and he hasn't had much luck swaying his colleagues to reform the state's tax credits. But that doesn't mean the effort's been for naught, or that he shouldn't keep trying.