Last year was marked by divisiveness and lack of progress on a number of key issues affecting our state. For too long, Oklahoma has been at an impasse, paralyzed by hyper-partisan rhetoric and in-fighting.
Like many in our state, we believe it’s time to move forward and focus on constructive strategies for strengthening Oklahoma’s economy and competitiveness. With the start of legislative session near, it’s time to assess where we’ve been – and where we want to be.
Each year, the State Chamber develops a comprehensive legislative agenda. Our focus is on supporting policies and legislation that foster economic growth, job creation and a thriving state.
Throughout 2018, we’ll be fighting for a stronger Oklahoma and a competitive business environment.
Below are some of our top legislative priorities for 2018:
• Fund regionally competitive teacher salaries and provide a career ladder for advancement within the profession.
• Support criminal justice reform efforts to strengthen our workforce and protect public safety while decreasing state budget costs.
• Preserve Oklahoma’s state highway funding for the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan and the Five-Year County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program.
• Protect valuable economic development incentives to keep Oklahoma competitive.
• Support a stable and reliable tax structure for all energy development that protects existing investment and promotes new capital investment.
• Support a tax increase on cigarettes for the purpose of improving the health of Oklahomans and use the new revenue to fully fund health care priorities in the state.
• Encourage a pro-investment environment to strengthen Oklahoma’s developing technology industry.
• Support reforms to occupational licensing to remove unnecessary barriers to employment and get more Oklahomans to work.
The success of Oklahoma hinges on the success of its core industries, which include energy, aerospace, health care, technology, manufacturing, retail and more. For these economic engines to continue generating prosperity for our state, certain conditions must be in effect: We must have a healthy, educated workforce. Tax policies must be stable and fair. Regulations must be reasonable and not stymie growth. And we must ensure that Oklahoma remains an attractive, competitive place to do business.
Our detailed legislative agenda for accomplishing these goals can be found at www.okstatechamber.com. We invite the business and community leaders to join with us in calling for these important policies and reforms to strengthen and stabilize Oklahoma’s economy.
Column by Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, published in The Journal Record on January 19, 2018