Adelson: State can save $259 million

by: BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
From Tulsa World
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
2/17/2010 4:19:53 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY — Sen. Tom Adelson said Tuesday that the state could save $259 million by eliminating some tax credits and exemptions.

The Tulsa Democrat said that when legislative leaders talk about agency cuts and raising revenue to deal with a budget shortfall, wiping out some of the credits and exemptions is not mentioned.

"The growth in government spending through the tax code is the fault of both Republicans and Democrats," Adelson said at a Capitol news conference. "I'm not here to cast blame. I voted for some. Oklahomans want us to find solutions, not build party market share."

Adelson said cracking down on gross-production and energy rebates and exemptions would save more than $59 million.

Meanwhile, wiping out the manufacturing facility property exemptions would save more than $44.5 million, he said.

Also on the list are corporate tax credits, exemptions on advertising sales and sales-tax exemptions for newspapers and periodicals, among other things, Adelson said.

Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association, said: "Taxing advertising drives up the cost of everything you buy. Therefore, sales go down. There is less sales tax, so you end up actually losing money in the long run."

Newspapers and magazines would have to pass on the cost to consumers, he said.

"Hopefully, the citizens who will have to pay those taxes will understand he (Adelson) is just leveling a new tax on about 80 percent of Oklahomans who read newspapers and magazines," Thomas said.

Adelson said the exemptions and tax credits have not been considered for review and are not subject to reductions.

"We are extending tax preference to those already with great advantages while imposing draconian cuts on ordinary Oklahomans," he said. "This is like burning your own furniture to keep the house warm."

Ending the exemptions and credits would not be a tax increase, Adelson said. Rather, it would end favored treatment.

House Speaker Chris Benge said he supports a review to ensure that the credits meet their intended purposes.

"But, especially in this economy, we must be careful to not eliminate credits that are properly serving as economic development tools, but instead target those that have become out-dated and are no longer serving as a financial stimulus to the state," said Benge, R-Tulsa.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, had not seen the information provided by Adelson and reserved comment, said his spokesman, Randy Swanson.

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