Stitt says politics obstructing major company relocation to Oklahoma

(The Center Square) – Gov. Kevin Stitt said he hopes to draw a large company to the state, but politics and competition from Canada could get in the way.

The company is deciding between Oklahoma and Canada for where to locate a facility, according to the governor. He didn’t name the company.

“We have a transformative company, a top-ten company in the country, or in the world really size-wise and revenue-wise, that wants to build in the state of Oklahoma,” Stitt said during his weekly news conference on Friday.

He called the state’s efforts to draw the company a “ninth-hour” effort.

“There’s now some politics happening which is really, really disappointing,” Stitt said.

Oklahoma is using what is known as Project Connect to attract the company. The governor said his discussions with top legislators signal a potential change to the LEAD Act so that Project Connect could qualify.

Passed in 2022 through House Bill 4455, the Large-scale Economic Activity Development (LEAD) Act is a nearly $700 million incentive package for large companies looking to set up shop in Oklahoma. The company must meet certain conditions to qualify for the incentive package, including hiring a certain number of people and having capital expenditures of at least $500 million, according to the bill.

However, the LEAD Act is facing a new challenge from Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, who filed House Bill 1381 earlier this month, which would repeal it. Gann said the LEAD Act was “a failed attempt to entice business to Oklahoma using corporate welfare.”

“Oklahomans need tax relief and by repealing HB 1381, the largest corporate welfare in state history, they will secure it,” Gann said in a news release announcing the bill. “We need to stop the giveaway of tax dollars to those who don’t need it and instead give back to the Oklahoma taxpayer.”

Stitt said the LEAD Act simply combined two incentive packages for companies already in legislation and pre-funded them into the $698 million package so that companies couldn’t double dip. The incentives are paid out over ten years.

HB 1381 is assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Finance’s Revenue and Taxation subcommittee.

This article First appeared in the center square

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