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Public Statements

The Oklahoman - Republican Senator Seeks Spending "Transparency"

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By John Greiner
The Oklahoman

A state Senator expressed confidence Monday that the governor will sign his legislation to give taxpayers the ability to see how tax dollars are spent, despite opposition from The State Chamber.

Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, is called the Taxpayer Transparency Act. It requires the state finance office to create and maintain a Web site that people can view how state money is used.

Opposition

* Richard P. Rush, president and chief executive officer of The State Chamber, urged Henry in a letter to veto Brogdon's bill. The State Chamber is concerned because information about tax credits will be available for inspection on the Web site, Rush said.

* Rush said it could make it more difficult to attract people who want to invest in Oklahoma.

* "Tax credits are critically important incentives to attracting investment into Oklahoma. They range from new jobs credits to small business capital credits to agricultural producers credits to venture capital investment credits...and the list goes on," Rush's letter said.

* "SB 1 will shine an unwanted light on those who invest in Oklahoma and it will make it much more difficult to attract those investors," Rush wrote in the letter.

Support

* "SB 1 has come under attack by a few individuals who would prefer that light not be shined on certain activities," Brogdon said. "I would encourage Governor (Brad) Henry to ignore these 11th hour critics and sign SB 1 into law."

* "The state provides millions upon millions of dollars in tax credits to businesses every year. Oklahoma citizens have just as much right to know where this money is going as they do to know where expenditures are going for other government programs," Brogdon said. "SB 1 is a common sense, good-government bill that will bring more sunshine to the state budget."

Differences on scope

* Mike Seney, senior vice president of operations for The State Chamber, said the group believes the bill will affect all tax credits.

* Brogdon said it exempts some such as tax credits authorized this year for stay-at-home parents.

Bill's prospects

* Henry said he supports a Web site disclosing funding to the public, but he is concerned the bill may hinder economic development

* "We do want to be careful that in any legislation ... there are not unintended consequences," Henry said.

Federal model

* U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the Brogdon bill is modeled after federal legislation he authored.

* "Oklahomans should be concerned by attempts to resist transparency and openness in how their tax dollars are spent. Senate Bill 1 will give Oklahomans a powerful tool to hold their state elected officials accountable to ensure their tax dollars are spent in the most efficient and effective ways," Coburn said.

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