Morgan: Room to improve
The state of business in Oklahoma is very good. That doesn’t mean we can be complacent or that there isn’t room for improvement, however. That’s what the State Chamber will be focusing on for the 2015 legislative session that begins Monday.
Oklahoma is making great strides. As our 2015 Accountability for a Competitive Economy Book shows, Oklahoma has the fourth-highest percentage increase in per capita personal income in the nation since 2000. Our gross domestic product increase from 2012 to 2013 was sixth best in the country. These are figures to be proud of. They beat every state in the region, including Texas.
How did it happen? Certainly the recent boom in oil and gas production is a large part of it. Yet even that got a boost from policies designed to increase capital investment in drilling here. Other economic development programs such as tax credits for aerospace engineers and ad valorem exemptions for wind power production and Oklahoma’s manufacturers have also contributed greatly to the state’s continued economic success.
That’s why the State Chamber’s legislative agenda calls for continuing these kinds of proven economic development tools. Rolling back successful programs would mean rolling back the state’s progress. Capital investment will go to states that have their own economic development programs and Oklahoma will be worse off as a result. We should regularly review our economic development programs to ensure they are effective. However, if we want to keep the state moving forward, we must keep the policies going that got us here. Other states are constantly trying to improve their economic incentives to compete with Oklahoma.
At the same time, we should ask, “What else can we do?” We need to make sure unnecessary and burdensome government regulations aren’t getting in the way of economic growth. Our education system has to prepare our children for a workplace that will demand more flexibility and technological ability. Recent efforts to improve and maintain our state’s infrastructure need to continue and even expand.
You can read all of our suggestions in our legislative agenda which, along with our ACE Book, is available online. Oklahoma is a great state for business. This year, like every year, let’s work together to make us a leader in our region, our nation and the world.
This article was posted in The Journal Record as part of Fred Morgan's monthly opinion editorial.