Oklahoma Reconsidering Tax Breaks After Investments Fizzle

Okla. lawmakers study tax breaks to risky ventures
Associated Press

Businesses and many economists say Oklahoma needs to offer corporate tax breaks to expand its economy and remain competitive with other states hoping to lure new jobs. “For us to be able to bring the quality jobs that Oklahomans long for and deserve, we must have these tools,” said state commerce secretary Natalie Shirley.

But with Oklahoma facing a budget shortfall of more than $600 million, some lawmakers say its time to reassess how tax breaks are doled out in order to protect taxpayers from being taken for a ride on risky ventures.

Quartz Mountain Aerospace got $32 million in financing through Oklahoma’s rural venture capital tax credit programs before closing its doors in Altus, failing on promises to build 130 pilot training planes in 2008 and 285 in 2009.

Before the Rocketplane and Quartz Mountain ventures ran aground, the Legislature kicked in $27 million to get Great Plains Airlines up and running from Tulsa as a regional carrier, with flights to the west and east coasts. It went bankrupt in 2004 after three years of limited operations.

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