Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gov. Henry Signs Quality Jobs Incentive to Lure NBA

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gov. Henry Signs Quality Jobs Incentive to Lure NBA

Article excerpt

Gov. Brad Henry on Thursday signed Senate Bill 1819, economic incentive legislation designed to lure an NBA franchise to Oklahoma.

The measure received final approval from the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon, and the governor signed the bill into law as soon as the paperwork was delivered to his office.

"This legislation brings us one step closer to landing an NBA franchise and further confirms that Oklahoma is truly a big league state," said Gov. Henry.

Though it took two hours of debate, the state House of Representatives approved a bill to provide Quality Jobs tax incentives to the owners of the Sonics professional basketball team - the day before NBA officials are scheduled to vote on the owner's application to relocate the team from Seattle to Oklahoma City.

On a vote of 67 to 32, the state House sent Senate Bill 1819 to Gov. Brad Henry for his signature. Thursday's final approval of the bill was SB 1819's third vote this week. The House had approved the measure Monday with a few amendments, including a measure to provide income tax credits to people from out of state who move to rural Oklahoma. The Senate approved SB 1819 on Tuesday, but removed the House's amendments, requiring the measure to go back to the House for a final vote.

Each time the bill was considered in either chamber, the measure met with hours of debate only to be approved by a significant majority.

The Quality Jobs program provides qualifying companies with cash rebates of up to 5 percent of the taxable wages the company pays in payroll each year, for up to 10 years. Lawmakers against SB 1819 noted that the program has in the past only been applied to manufacturing companies and certain service companies with a new payroll of at least $2.5 million - but the program has never before been applied to a sports team. The team employs 170 people and has a $74 million annual payroll.

SB 1819 extends the Quality Jobs Act to 15 years from 10. …

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