- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A pair of bills designed to provide more scrutiny and oversight of state tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars easily cleared the Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday.

With no opposition, the Senate voted for a pair of bills by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and sent both to the House for consideration.

The first would create a seven-member panel of economists, state officials and lay people to examine various tax credits and determine their effectiveness. The committee would be required to evaluate every state tax incentive at least once every four years. It applies to any state tax credits, exemptions, deductions or rebates.

The second bill requires future tax incentives to have a clearly stated goal so their effectiveness can be measured.

“Under current law, once tax credits and economic incentives are approved by the Legislature, we don’t have a system to provide us with reliable data on their effectiveness,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “This legislation would correct that problem, and ensure that lawmakers have the information to determine whether incentives are working as intended.”

Oklahoma offers hundreds of exemptions from sales, income, property and other taxes. For example, companies that invest in property for a manufacturing facility are provided an income tax credit that cost the state about $95 million during the last fiscal year. As the number of tax credits has grown in recent years, it has reduced the amount of revenue available for the Legislature to appropriate.

The Legislature currently has about $611 million less to spend on state programs than it did last year, prompting calls for more scrutiny of various tax subsidies.

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Senate Bill 806: https://bit.ly/1AC8PoU

Senate Bill 815: https://bit.ly/1Jolu2S

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