Last Friday, in the final minutes of the legislative session,
state lawmakers restored a previously eliminated tax credit for the
wind energy industry after industry lobbyists mounted a full-scale
The credit, bundled in House Bill 3024, passed the House on a 91-
8 vote at 4:34 p.m. Friday.
Then, at 4:51 p.m., just nine minutes before the Senate was
forced to adjourn for the year, the bill passed the Senate 44-3.
Written by state Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, and state Sen. Mike
Mazzei, R-Tulsa, the legislation restored tax credit payments for
the wind industry, historic property renovations and businesses that
invest in infrastructure and add employees.
Originally part of the "revenue enhancement" component of the
$6.68 billion budget bill, those tax credits had been eliminated by
Senate Bill 1267, which gutted several credits, including a tax
credit for zero-emission power plants such as wind farms.
The tax credit moratorium was set to generate about $25 million;
of that figure, about $600,000 was used to fund the zero-emission
facility tax credit. Industry officials touted the credit, passed
several years ago, as responsible for bringing several large wind-
energy projects to the state.
But as the session wound to a close, the enhancement package -
along with the budget, itself - proved unpopular with many business
and conservative groups.
In a media statement released as the budget deal was being voted
on, the conservative group Oklahomans for Responsible Government
complained the deal included gimmicks and didn't cut spending deep
"The budget agreement reached between Governor Henry and
legislative leaders relied far too much on so-called 'revenue
enhancements' and not enough on budget cuts," said Brian Downs,
OFRG's executive director. "While lawmakers talked about cuts as
high as 10 percent, in the end the overall cut was less than 4
percent. As a result, closing the $1.2 billion budget gap used only
$256 million in cuts, relying on gimmicks like a tax on health care
claims and raiding the Rainy Day Fund to the point where only $100
million is left for 2012 and beyond."
But by late Friday, the revenue component of the budget had,
again, undergone major changes, including the reinstatement of many
previously eliminated tax credits.
Industry officials were behind the effort.
"The wind energy industry deeply appreciates the leadership shown
by the Oklahoma Legislature and Gov. …