The Woodward News

Local News

January 24, 2013

State enjoying strong economy

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — "That means folks in Oklahoma are becoming more prosperous," Lopez said.

WHAT HAS LED TO THAT ECONOMIC SUCCESS

The Commerce Secretary said there are several factors that have played into Oklahoma's recent economic success.

"The state has done a good job with its own fiscal management," he said, referring to how state leaders handled the $500 million budget shortfall in 2011.

While the state had to dip into its reserves and practically depleted the rainy day fund to just $2 to meet that shortfall, Lopez said the state has recovered so much that in the next month the rainy day fund will be at $650 million, which will be a state record.

"That's quite an achievement in a little over 24 months to go from a $500 million deficit to having a savings account bigger than we've ever had," he said.

The growth in the rainy day fund has been bolstered by the fact that "our revenues for the state continue to grow, even though they've slowed down in the last quarter," Lopez said.

Another factor in the state's economic success, Lopez said, is that "policy makers have given us and let us keep tools such as the Quality Jobs Program."

According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce's website, the "Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program allows qualifying businesses which are creating new quality jobs to receive a special incentive to locate or expand in Oklahoma."

Lopez said the state Department of Commerce awarded 52 contracts as part of Quality Jobs Program last year, 90 percent of which were awarded to companies in Oklahoma.

"So it's not just for recruiting new businesses, but for retention purposes as well," he said.

Lopez said that Gov. Fallin has also played an important role in helping the state to realize economic growth over the past 2 years.  He pointed to Fallin's work on issues such as workers compensation reform, aerospace and engineering tax credits, higher education incentive programs, transportation improvements, and compressed natural gas (CNG) initiatives, among others.

In particular he discussed her efforts with income tax reform, noting "she worked to trim personal income tax in the state by a quarter of a percent and I believe she will work to trim it even more to help keep more money in your pockets so you can invest it back in the state economy."

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