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State Lawmakers May Cut Oklahoma's Affordable Housing Tax Credit in Half

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Oklahoma lawmakers could cut in half a tax credit meant to encourage affordable housing developments.

House Bill 2760 would lower the annual cap on the credit from $4 million to $2 million. Rep. Kyle Hilbert  (R-Bristow) said an incentive evaluation commission estimates the credit will lose Oklahoma $106.1 million over 10 years.

"Personally, I would be for doing away with the credit altogether moving forward, but instead of doing that, we’re cutting it in half to save the state some money," Hilbert said.

Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) questioned why the affordable housing credit is on the chopping block before other incentives, like up to $8 million a year for movies or TV shows that shoot in Oklahoma.

"The message is this legislature values spending our tax dollars to help build mansions in the hills of Hollywood over building affordable housing units in Oklahoma," Nichols said.

Several lawmakers said other incentives should be looked at first. Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore) said tens of millions of dollars in wind tax credits could at least be deferred a couple years.

"Are we really looking at things, or does somebody got a pet peeve?" McBride said to Hilbert.

At the start of this year, Oklahoma needed an estimated 19,000 affordable housing units for low-income families, up from 12,000 in 2015.

The House passed the measure 59–41. It now goes to the Senate.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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