Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Incentive Review Panel Won't Start with Most Expensive Programs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Incentive Review Panel Won't Start with Most Expensive Programs

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - In its first year, the Incentive Evaluation Commission will look at $110 million worth of tax credits and exemptions. But the 11 up for review first aren't the biggest or even most lauded among the business community.

The $73 million Quality Jobs Program won't be reviewed until next year. Deductions on capital gains will continue, without examination, for at least another year at $114.8 million.

When the Legislature returns to the state Capitol in February, it will have the first 11 to consider. The commission will recommend that lawmakers keep, amend or repeal the incentives.

Dirk Spiers, a Dutch businessman who started a battery refurbishing and manufacturing company in Oklahoma City more than a year ago, said the Quality Jobs Program will help him hire up to 116 employees. He has 35 now.

How beneficial it actually is, he said, is hard to say.

"Without it, would we go under or would we hire less? Difficult to say," said Spiers, president of Spiers New Technologies. "You'll probably hire what you need (without it), but it does help."

He plans to add engineers, most of them with expertise in electrical and mechanical sciences. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce said in an announcement last week that Spiers could reap up to $2 million in cash payments over 10 years.

Scott Meacham, former state treasurer and budget director for Gov. Brad Henry, said the Quality Jobs Program has already passed scrutiny. A legislative panel reviewed it and other incentives several years ago and gave the program high marks.

"I certainly understand why you would put off one that has had an in-depth analysis and review of it already," said Meacham, who is now president of i2E, a private nonprofit firm that invests in small business. "To me, that makes a lot of sense, and it's efficient."

He said evaluations held until another year will cost time and expense. …

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