SB 893 Resolves Accreditation Issue with Engineer Tax Credits for Aerospace

A bill that would ensure clarity for those engineers and employers using one of the best aerospace tax incentive programs in the state was signed by the Governor on May 28.

Senate Bill 893 by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond and Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, is the culmination of a multi-year effort by the legislature to ensure an interpretation of which engineers and the employers that hire them can qualify for the tax credit.

The measure clarifies that graduates of programs of the same discipline of engineering at a higher education institution will receive the tax credit so long as either the graduate or undergraduate degree is ABET accredited. The measure also modifies the term “qualified employee” to require such persons to possess either an undergraduate or graduate degree from a qualified program by an institution or be a licensed Professional Engineer.

“The engineer tax credits are a major reason aerospace is one of the fastest growing industries in our state, and I am grateful to Senator Pugh and the Legislature for sending SB 893 to my desk this session,” said Governor Kevin Stitt. “Oklahoma is becoming a national hub for aerospace and I will continue to support policies that expand and grow this critical industry for our state.”

“These credits have been significant for Tinker Air Force Base, the world’s largest military aircraft repair facility and the largest employer of engineers in aerospace in Oklahoma. In addition to Tinker, Boeing and Oklahoma City operations list these tax credits among the top 3 reasons for adding over 3,000 jobs to Oklahoma over the last several years,” said Pugh.

Proponents believe the credits have contributed in a significant way to the rapid growth experienced in aerospace over the last 10 years. Aerospace is Oklahoma’s fastest-growing industry, and according to the Aeronautics Commission economic impact study, the industry’s annual economic activity is $44 billion a year.

“The amendments maintain the integrity of ABET accreditation but make it clear that if you get your graduate degree in engineering from a university in which the corresponding undergraduate degree is ABET accredited, you qualify for the credits. The amendments also allow an engineer with a Professional Engineer license employed in the aerospace industry to qualify for the tax credits,” said Fetgatter.

The Aeronautics Commission fostered the engineer tax credits legislation in 2008 so that engineers with an undergraduate or graduate degree in engineering from an ABET accredited institution qualified for the credits.

“This alternative avenue of qualification will be very helpful to foreign-born engineers and will have very little economic impact on the State,” said State Director of Aeronautics Grayson Ardies.