Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Defense Center Bill May Pass by Friday

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Defense Center Bill May Pass by Friday

Article excerpt

By Lou Anne Wolfe

Journal Record Staff Reporter

State incentive legislation aimed at landing a federal defense accounting facility for Oklahoma City, Tulsa or Lawton is embarking today on a quick trip through the Oklahoma Legislature, with final passage expected Friday.

The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Don Williams, D-Balko, is scheduled to consider Senate Bill 518 at 9:30 a.m. today. Assuming all goes well, the full Senate should vote Wednesday on the measure, said Sen. Ted Fisher, D-Sapulpa.

Fisher, and Sen. Roy Hooper, D-Lawton, are carrying the bill on the Senate side for Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Cullison, D-Skiatook. Rep. Don McCorkell, D-Tulsa, is carrying the bill on the House side for House Speaker Glen Johnson, D-Okemah.

Considering that Senate Bill 518 would benefit three geographically diverse cities, lawmakers said they anticipate few problems gaining acceptance of it.

McCorkell said the complaints he's heard about the bill are what he'd term "around-the-edges type complaints" _ concerning form, rather than substance. "I've not heard anybody object to the basic program," he said.

The three cities are among 20 finalist communities for three or five new U.S. Defense Finance and Accounting Service centers to be built around the country. According to the U.S. Department of Defense timetable, the accounting service will report its recommendations for site cities to the U.S. Defense Secretary by Feb. 15, so the Legislature has no time to waste in passing its incentive bill.

The candidate cities had to turn in their offers to the accounting service in January, which means the Oklahoma communities had to leave a couple of components in a tentative state.

One of those components was a state financial incentive tied to direct tax revenues from jobs created. If five total accounting centers are built with 4,000 employees each, Oklahoma's incentive to the federal government would amount to $5.25 million a year for 20 years. If the defense department builds three total centers, they would each employ 7,000 people and it would boost the value of Oklahoma's state incentive to about $8 million a year, according to Fisher.

The other tentative component, contained in all three cities' packages, is a local 1-cent sales tax which must be approved by community voters. Oklahoma County will have its election on Feb. 9.

Oklahoma County's 1-cent tax question would give the county the leeway to levy the tax up to 36 months, however long was needed to raise the funds for either a 4,000-employee or 7,000-employee facility. If the tax was levied for the full 36 months, it has been estimated to raise $150 million.

The defense secretary is supposed to make his recommendations to the Fiscal Year 93 Base Realignment and Closure Commission on March 15. …

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