OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill extending tax incentives credited with creating hundreds of high-paying aerospace engineering jobs in Oklahoma is awaiting Gov. Mary Fallin’s consideration. House Bill 2509, by Sen. Mike Mazzei and Rep. Earl Sears, won final approval by the full Senate on Thursday. Without the legislation, those incentives would expire in 2015. Mazzei said the tax credits have a proven record of creating high-paying jobs in the state.
“I authored the original bill in 2008 creating these incentives to address a critical shortage of aerospace engineers in Oklahoma. We knew that by meeting the need for a qualified workforce, we could attract and keep aerospace companies and the high-paying jobs that came with them. It worked,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “The program is already responsible for more than 350 aerospace engineer jobs with an estimated economic impact of $270 million. In terms of future job creation, it just makes sense to extend this program.”
Over 500 aerospace-related companies are located in Oklahoma, providing 144,000 direct and indirect jobs with an average salary of $56,000. Oklahoma’s aerospace industry generates $4.4 billion annually in revenue, with exports to 170 countries. The tax credits were a major consideration when Boeing decided to bring 500 new jobs to Oklahoma, as well as the decision by a Belgian company to locate in Stillwater, creating another 600 jobs.
HB 2509 will extend the sunset date on the aerospace engineer employee and employer tax credit and the employer credit for tuition reimbursement until January 1, 2018. It also clarifies the definition of “qualified employee” to address an issue with previous aerospace interns being unable to access the credit once they have received their engineering degree.
“These incentives are very important to the aerospace industry,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville. “We need to continue to support this industry that provides so much value to Oklahoma. I am extremely proud and excited to see HB 2509 sent to the governor’s desk.”