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U.S. Rep. John Katko describes his stance as a "lean yes" vote on the final Republican tax bill that will be negotiated by members of a House and Senate conference committee. 

Katko, R-Camillus, voted for the House bill last month. He was one of four Republicans from New York who supported the legislation, which would reduce the number of income tax brackets, cut corporate taxes and eliminate several credits and deductions. 

The Senate passed its own tax plan last week. The bills have many similarities. But there are some key differences, including how the corporate tax cut would be implemented and whether income tax brackets would be preserved. 

As the conference committee begins its work to reach a final agreement on tax reform legislation, Katko will be a member to watch. House Republican leaders can't afford to lose support within their own conference. 

Here are five factors that will impact how Katko votes on the final Republican tax bill: 

State and local tax deduction

The House bill would eliminate the ability to deduct state and local income and sales taxes, but it would allow homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 of state and local property taxes. This is a major reason why Katko, R-Camillus, supported the House bill last month. 

An earlier version of the Senate bill called for the complete elimination of the state and local tax deduction. But U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, sponsored an amendment to add the House provision to the Senate bill. Her effort succeeded and it was included in the measure approved by the Senate last week. 

Now, Katko wants to make sure the partial restoration of the state and local tax deduction remains in the final agreement negotiated by the House and Senate conference committee. 

If it's not in the final bill, he will vote no. 

Historic preservation tax credit

The House bill would eliminate the Historic Tax Credit program, which supports the rehabilitation of historic structures. An example of a project that benefited from historic tax credits is the former Hotel Syracuse (now the Marriott Syracuse Downtown). 

Unlike the House, the Senate would keep the historic preservation tax credits in place. 

Katko didn't say whether it would be a deal-breaker for him if the tax credit program wasn't included in the final tax bill. But he hopes the agreement preserves the credits.

"I want to address that issue and try and get that back in," he said. 

Higher education tuition benefits

With central New York home to several colleges and universities, Katko is concerned about how the tax bill would impact employees and students at these institutions. 

The House bill proposed taxing a perk for university employees: free tuition for their children. The measure also would consider tuition waivers as taxable income for graduate students who work as research or teaching assistants. For graduate students, this would likely result in much larger tax bills. 

Katko highlighted the higher education benefits as issues he wants addressed in the final tax bill. 

Repealing Affordable Care Act's individual mandate

The Senate bill included a provision to repeal the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, a 2010 health care law commonly referred to as "ObamaCare." The mandate requires individuals to buy health insurance. 

Katko acknowledged his past votes to repeal the individual mandate. 

"I think there is something inherently unconstitutional about forcing someone to buy something or you're going to penalize them if they don't," he said. "That's inherently un-American to me." 

Despite his opposition, he would rather not address thorny health insurance issues in the bill. But if the individual mandate repeal is included in the final tax agreement, he said "it's not going to prove fatal to my support of what the ultimate bill is." 

Allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

As a way to generate revenue, the Senate plan would permit oil drilling in a section of the 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, was one of the major proponents of the drilling provision. 

Environmental groups have urged Katko to oppose drilling in the refuge. The League of Conservation Voters, a national organization, launched a television ad campaign targeting Katko and two other Republican congressmen. A rally was held outside Katko's Syracuse office to demand he oppose the drilling proposal. 

"Is it fatal to my support? I haven't decided yet on that and that's why I'm a lean yes, not a definite yes," he said.

The oil drilling would target the refuge's coastal plain. It's unknown how much oil is located below the 1.5-million-acre area. One estimate suggested there is at least 4.3 billion barrels of oil in the plain. 

There are concerns about how drilling would impact wildlife on the coastal plain. Critics highlight the potential impact on wildlife, including polar bears that den on the plain. 

"I'm still looking into it," Katko said. "But the more I learn about it the more I realize it may not have such a deleterious effect on the refuge as a whole." 

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