Senators Call For Wind Industry Tax Credit Reforms For Education Funding

Monday, April 9th 2018, 4:23 pm

Two Oklahoma senators are proposing changes to tax credits for wind energy companies as another way to raise millions of dollars for education.

Senators Josh Brecheen and Nathan Dahm said it will pump millions more into education without raising taxes, but teachers said it's still not enough.

The second week of the walkout started out strong Monday, with thousands of teachers, parents and students making up the crowd.

"They know where and why we're doing this," said Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences teacher, Jackie Brewer.

While the Oklahoma Education Association is calling for a repeal of capital gains tax deductions, two senators called on the Legislature to end “corporate welfare” to the wind industry, which they said pays out $500 to $750 million over the next 10 years to the wind industry.

If approved, the bill would give $70 million to education instead of corporate wind companies.

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"If we don't do something truly meaningful this session, not next session, another $70 million is literally going to be gone with the wind," Brecheen said.

The senator said the bill would end corporate welfare payments, not by eliminating the tax credit, but by eliminating the refundability aspect of it.

He said, right now, most of that money goes to out of state and foreign interest.

"Checks in the mail to Italy, checks in the mail to Spain. Foreign interest. They don't care about the conditions of Oklahoma classrooms, conditions of our infrastructure, roads and bridges," Brecheen said.

Dahm said, "We are doing this because we believe that there are better ways to fund our core functions of government instead of continually raising taxes."

Brewer said the bill is a step in the right direction, but, said lawmakers need to get creative and look for even more solutions.

"I do appreciate the effort and looking at the wind industry. But I do think we can kind of explore other options besides just the wind," she said.

The advantage of the bill is that it would need a 51 percent majority to pass instead of 75 percent. Brecheen and Dahm said it could be passed as early as Thursday.

We've asked OEA for a response to the wind proposals.