As My Term Ends, Thankful for the Opportunity to Serve and Optimistic about Oklahoma's Future
By Governor Mary FallinIn just a matter of days, Oklahoma will have a new governor and I will once again - after 28 years - be a private citizen. I’ve enjoyed my decades of service as a public servant, as a state legislator, lieutenant governor and a member of Congress, especially the past eight years serving as your governor. The best part certainly is meeting the many wonderful Oklahomans across our state and listening to their concerns. The challenging and rewarding part comes with finding solutions to their concerns and issues. Despite two economic downturns during my time as governor – one underway when I took office and the global energy downturn early in my second term – Oklahoma’s business climate is healthy. We’ve diversified our economy. We’re training and educating our citizens to learn skills sets necessary for jobs today and in the future. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is the lowest in 17 years and with the new jobs and people moving to Oklahoma, our state’s population has grown to just under 4 million people! Oklahoma offers an incredibly low cost of doing business. For the second year in a row, the Anderson Economic Group’s 2018 State Business Tax Burden Rankings ranks Oklahoma with the lowest tax burden in the country. Oklahoma has one of the lowest costs of living in the U.S., plus the state has the second-lowest electric power costs in the country, and at the same time offers a great quality of life. During my administration, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce has secured 526 new and expanding business announcements representing more than $14.6 billion of investments. When you look at job numbers tallied by cities and other local entities, the estimate is close to 200,000 new jobs. We’ve made great progress in diversifying our economy. Oil and gas will still be a dominant part of our economy. However, the aerospace and defense sector of our economy has seen a huge growth in jobs and investment. In fact, for the first time in decades Oklahoma will have two aerospace manufacturing facilities that will produce high-performance, jet-powered unmanned aerial tactical and target drone systems. Other expanding industries include paper goods as well as steel milling; digital information services like Google; and large fulfillment centers like Amazon. Pro-business policies that I supported and signed into law helped spur our economy and lower the state’s unemployment rate. They include:
- Transitioning Oklahoma to an administrative workers’ compensation system committed to taking care of injured workers yet reducing the state’s average workers’ comp loss costs rates nearly 64 percent lower than they were in January 2011.
- Making Oklahoma more business friendly by enacting tort reform measures: Oklahoma has moved from 42nd to 31st in reducing frivolous lawsuits.
- Cutting Oklahoma’s unfunded pension liability of $16 billion nearly in half to about $8.4 billion.