Recently, Sen. Mike Mazzei (R-Tulsa), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and author of State Question 766, wrote a letter to all Oklahoma state Senators discussing the impact of the property tax exemption created by State Question 766 on our counties, schools and Career Tech system.
Today, Sen. Roger Ballenger issued the following comments in response to the “good news” Sen. Mazzei shared in that letter about the impact of the elimination of intangible property taxes by State Question 766 on Oklahoma schools:
“Sen. Mazzei’s ‘good news’ letter full of ‘fun facts’ about the companies taking advantage of this tax break is an insult to our school administrators, teachers, parents and students across Oklahoma,” said Sen Ballenger, D-Okmulgee. “The real message in his letter is that tax breaks for corporations are more important than investing in Oklahoma’s children and Oklahoma’s future by appropriately funding our schools and CareerTech centers.”
“When the voters approved SQ 766 in 2012, no one was quite sure how much revenue would be lost by eliminating these taxes. But now, we know. In his letter, Sen. Mazzei informed us that the Oklahoma Tax Commission found that the elimination of intangible property taxes in SQ 766 cost Oklahoma counties, schools and Career Tech system $60 million this year alone. Since school districts receive 65 percent of all those property taxes, the cost of SQ 766 to schools exceeds $35 million. This is on top of the 20 percent decline in per pupil state spending since FY 2008 and an 8.78 percent cut in Title One funds due to sequestration.”
“This number is likely to only get bigger, since we were also told that just 90 of the approximately 250 public service companies that qualify for the SQ 766 tax break took advantage of it – that is just 36 percent of those companies eligible for the tax break. It would seem obvious that more and more companies will take advantage of this tax break in the future when they see that Southwestern Bell/AT&T received a $23 million tax break thanks to SQ 766. This will ultimately lead to fewer and fewer county generated tax dollars going to support our schools and CareerTech system.”