Sunday, April 8, 2018

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED - Help Stop Wind Tax Credits And Put That Money Back Into The Budget For Education And Other Needs

While some are asking where money can be found to fund core government needs in Oklahoma, one simple answer is ending corporate welfare to the Corporate Wind Industry! If we don't do something truly meaningful this session, another $70 million dollars is going to LITERALLY be "Gone with the Wind" when it could have, instead, gone to meet other state needs.

We must not allow our legislators to say "we will think about that tomorrow" and kick the can into next session or next week. At a rate of $70 million per year, corporate welfare payments to the wind industry are adding up to $500-$750 million in total payouts over the next ten years, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. We cannot delay addressing this issue - especially when additional tax increases for working families continue to be discussed in the legislature this session. The time to stop corporate welfare payments to big wind is now - before working families are asked to pay more. 

There is a limited window of opportunity while teachers are at the capitol to overtake the influence of the approximately 50 industrial wind lobbyists who are being paid to convince legislators to continue these $70 million dollars per year in payments to an industry who has already been alleviated of their entire tax liability. Yes, it's true. Not only does the wind industry not pay a dime in yearly taxes, the taxpayers of the state write the wind industry a $70 million dollar check every year. Next year, that 70 million is likely to be 75 if this is allowed to continue. 
Oklahoma currently ranks #2 in wind power generation because Oklahoma has the wind to run the turbines - not as a result of any tax credit. Don't buy the paid-for sales pitch that the industry won't continue to locate here if not subsidized. Oklahoma after all is where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!

Last Friday, the shenanigans of the corporate wind industry were exposed on the Senate floor. In fact, the entire Senate debate from Friday can be found here
Scroll to the 1 hour and 17 minute mark to see the start of wind reform Amendment I  proposed. You will see something unique in that debate as the corrupt practice of protecting special interest at taxpayer expense is exposed. At 1 hour and 41 minutes the audio freezes, but if you scroll to the 1 hour and 56 minute mark it continues to the 2 hour and 5 minute mark. If you scroll to exactly the 3 hour mark, you will find closing debate by the Senate author of the amendment.  

This coming Monday, SB888 will be heard in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee at 4pm. This bill will be amended in similar fashion as was tried on the Senate floor Friday - a true attempt to provide meaningful wind reform (not a soft cap of the $70 million annual corporate welfare payment - but a full elimination of payouts). An amendment to eliminate corporate welfare wind industry payments will be added to SB888 by Rep. Coody. The amendment is germane to the current bill and would eliminate the $70 million dollar annual refundable tax credit given to wind industry.

Oklahomans must contact the Committee members who will vote Monday and encourage them to "vote for the amendment to be added to the bill eliminating corporate welfare wind payments."
Click here for that committee membership and contact legislators on that committee before the vote at 4 pm this Monday, April 9th (TOMORROW).

Don't be fooled by legislators. Educate yourself on tax credit wind terminology by reading the information below.

This weekend, the Oklahoman newspaper has reported that House leadership may put wind reform up for a vote this coming week as pressure begins to build, however watch for the words "soft cap" and "carry forward".

Taxpayers need to be wary of tricks as the discussions continue. What types of wind reform are allowed by leadership and “those behind the curtain”
(see Wizard of Oz video clip…) to come to the House or Senate floor matter. What looks like real wind reform could be a slight of hand trick disguised as protection for the taxpayer unless taxpayers and teachers are up to speed - wind speed.  

#1. After 16 years of corporate welfare payments to big wind there is no excuse not to end the refundable tax credit completely. The $70 million dollar check in the mailbox should be 'returned to sender' - all $70 million of it. This is the fairest for the taxpayer after 16 years of payout.

Ending the refundability characteristic will accomplish this task. The word “refund" is misleading. It's called refundability yet it's not refunding anything the wind companies have payed out - it’s refunding the value of the credit they earned for every kilo-watt hour of electricity produced. Wind will still get their income tax liability zeroed out by ending refundability - but that is it - no more checks in the mail, while taxpayers are having their taxes raised. 
#2. Some want to discuss caps, but be leery of discussions on capping the $70 million per year payout. Capping the payout can be done in multiple ways. The easy way for the magicians to confuse the public is to place what is called a "soft cap" with "carry forward" on the $70 million dollar payout. If you hear the word "soft cap" or "carry forward" then just know the taxpayers are getting duped once again.

A soft cap means the payout is capped to say 35 million. Instead of paying out the entire $70 million, it looks like only $35 million is paid out, but the other $35 million is carried forward and paid out in later years. The taxpayer will still payout the full $70 million with a soft cap. The wind industry still gets the full corporate welfare payment, they just have to wait longer to receive it.
Oklahomans must demand that the provision for "soft caps" or "carry forward" in this deal be exposed/banned from acceptance as a true solution. If your legislators are going to create meaningful reform, they have to say no to "soft caps" and "carry forward" payments years into the future.

#3. A "hard cap" is the one type of payout cap you can count on to be transparent and easily understood. A "hard cap" truly limits the payout to the announced dollar figure of the cap. No tricks. No carry forward payments in future years. 

If $10 million is the hard cap, then all wind industries turning in their tax credits to the state totaling $70 million would only get a proportionate share of their credit - a percentage of its original claimed value. For example, a 10 million dollar cap would save the taxpayers a minimum of $60 million annually as those wind companies sharing that $10 million dollar check would get only a proportionate share of that $10 million - and that's all.  

 ** This post authored by a guest ghost writer

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