Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Joint Legislative Accountability Committee a Good Concept

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Joint Legislative Accountability Committee a Good Concept

Article excerpt

An ambitious step toward making state government more efficient and reviewing the efficacy of tax incentives for economic growth hopefully is nearing a satisfactory conclusion.

Senate Bill 1865 by State Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-OKC and Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Chris Benge, R-Tulsa establishes a Joint Committee on Accountability and Innovation.

The bill requires performance audits of state agencies and the review of tax incentives to ensure taxpayer funds are being used efficiently and effectively and state agencies are using the best practices available.

The joint committee would be composed of five members each of the House and Senate appointed by the Speaker and President Pro tempore respectively. No more than three members may be from one political party in each case.

A proposal for reviewing state agencies was tried last year by former House Speaker Rep. Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, but HB 2100 failed to get through the Senate. Authors are optimistic this time their expanded measure will succeed.

Recently passed the House by a vote of 65 (53 Republicans - 12 Democrats) to 28 (all Democrats) SB 1865 was returned to the Senate for consideration of minor House amendments including restoring the title originally struck to insure the Senate another shot at the bill. It remains essentially as originally passed by the Senate on a vote of 41 (24 Republicans and seven Democrats) to six (all Democrats).

It has been estimated there are 300 or more tax incentives or credits that have been put on the books by legislatures in the past. For the most part they are designed to spur economic growth and investments in Oklahoma. They range from tax credits for businesses as in the Quality Jobs Program, which has proven to be an effective economic development tool, to incentives to encourage drilling for oil and gas in Oklahoma.

Some of them like the deep drilling inducements are designed to sunset periodically and are subject to extension by legislative action. …

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