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Stitt asks lawmakers for tax incentive package to help land mystery company

Gov. Kevin Stitt answers questions from reporters at a Capitol press conference on Monday, April 18, 2022, in this still image from a governor's office livestream.
Gov. Kevin Stitt

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday presented the state legislature with a choice: Either pass "mega legislation" meant to lure an unnamed Fortune 500 company to the state, or lose out on "the largest factory in the world."

"I would not be standing up here asking for this in front of the press unless we thought we had a pretty good shot," Stitt said at a press conference in the Blue Room of the Capitol. "But I'll tell you this: If I don't get it passed, it's not happening."

Stitt said he was not able to name the company his administration is courting, nor the exact estimated number of jobs it would create, because of a non-disclosure agreement he signed, but that it would build a "humongous, humongous factory, with billions and billions of dollars worth of investment [and] thousands and thousands of jobs."

The governor, a Republican, said he believed the legislation would need to be finished this week because other states had already passed similar legislation meant to attract the company and executives were close to making a decision.

Stitt suggested the company was in the electric vehicle space, saying, "Tens of billions of dollars are going to be invested over the next five to seven years in this space, and we want Oklahoma to be the spot that these folks land."

In response to a question from a reporter, Stitt said the factory, if built, would be sited in the Tulsa area. Kian Kamas, the head of the city's Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity, was on hand for the Monday press conference, as was Tulsa Regional Chamber leader Mike Neal.

Among Stitt's requests of the legislature are increases to the corporate tax incentives available via the Quality Jobs Program and the Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit Package.

"These companies, they don't necessarily ask for this stuff, but they do have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders and they're going to pick the best place for their company, whether it's workforce or whether it's some of these incentives," Stitt said.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Charles McCall, a fellow Republican, said the speaker "is supportive of the project and working to pass it," and that more details would be revealed at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) meeting scheduled for later Monday afternoon.

The office of Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat provided the following statement from the Pro Tem: "Our stewardship has put us in a spot of unprecedented savings. We must reinvest in our future and I am excited that Oklahoma is in a position to compete for such a massive project. This is economic diversification and an investment in Oklahoma’s future and in future generations. I appreciate all of the work that the Governor and Secretary Mueller have put into trying to land the project and I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Speaker to put Oklahoma’s best foot forward."

On Twitter, Democratic House Minority Leader Emily Virgin wrote, just before 2:00 p.m.: "Gov. Stitt is asking us to support legislation that hasn't even been filed yet. We're supposed to vote on this at 4:30 this afternoon, but we have no language to read or analyze."

The JCAB meeting was scheduled for 4:30 p.m., though the meeting agenda contained no details on what it would cover.

This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 18, to add a statement from Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat received after publication.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.