June 3, 2012
By Gov. Mary Fallin
The 2012 legislative session was marked by a flurry of successes that will deliver more efficient government services and an environment more conducive to job creation. While it's disappointing that an income tax reduction wasn't among those successes, the failure to reach a tax cut compromise should not detract from the many victories won this year.
Chief among those is a budget — as well as accompanying reforms — that will continue to limit the growth of government while targeting waste and duplication. The budget passed this year is a fiscally conservative blueprint for state government that largely holds the line on spending. It does, however, provide targeted increases for specific needs and areas in which we know the state must improve: education, child welfare programs, road and bridge repair, access to health care, and public safety.
The budget is supported by a number of reforms that save taxpayer dollars and allow state agencies to do more with less. Legislation instructing agencies to reduce energy costs, for example, is expected to produce savings of $300 million to $500 million over eight years.
Besides government reform, progress continues to be made toward building a better environment for business growth. Last year we successfully addressed issues directly related to the bottom line of businesses operating in Oklahoma, such as workers' compensation costs and frivolous lawsuits. This year we went further, helping to address areas that affect both the economic bottom line of our businesses and the quality of life of our citizens.
We know that Oklahoma's poor health indicators, for instance, result in thousands of deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars of lost economic output each year. To address that, we established programs this year aimed at reducing infant deaths, encouraging healthy life choices and offering treatment to those suffering from substance abuse and addiction issues.
Businesses and families want to locate in crime-free environments, so we've increased resources and state troopers at the Department of Public Safety. They want a safe and efficient transportation infrastructure; to that end we developed and funded a plan to repair all 706 of Oklahoma's structurally deficient highway bridges.
Additionally, improving education outcomes continues to be a priority, as we know the majority of jobs created in the next decade will go to those with college degrees or career certificates. To ensure our citizens are poised to take advantage of these opportunities, we're pursuing the goal of dramatically increasing the number of degrees and certificates awarded in Oklahoma.
Finally, we've put the state on a path to address and correct what has long been a black eye for Oklahoma — the substandard conditions for children in state custody.
All of these are large steps forward for Oklahoma and its citizens. Each will help to make the state a better place to live, work and raise a family. I'm proud to declare another legislative session a success, and I look forward to continuing our forward progress next year.
Fallin, a Republican, was elected governor in 2010