Hello again, everybody! The business section of one of the state’s major newspapers this week told “a tale of two cities.”
With a dark background, the words “FINANCIAL MELTDOWN” introduced a report of the crisis on Wall Street. It was ominous, and the challenges our nation is facing are indeed serious. Still, Oklahoma is well-positioned to weather this current crisis.
Evidence of that was found in a report atop the same page. “Incomes in state continue to climb,” read the headline. The story went on to report Oklahoma had the eighth-highest rate of growth in personal income during the second quarter of 2008.
Oklahoma’s 2.5 percent growth in personal income eclipsed the national growth of 1.8 percent – much of which was driven by the economic stimulus checks from the federal government. Oklahomans benefited from that as well, but there is more at work in our economy.
Several economists use Oregon as a benchmark by which to measure Oklahoma’s economy. Our two states are almost the same size.
The difference is that Oregon is on the West Coast; it is a fast-growth state and is generally thought to have more amenities than Oklahoma. Despite having a significantly higher cost of living, Oregonians only have a $117 edge in per capita personal income over Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s incomes have climbed faster than the cost of living. That means the money we do have is able to go farther than it would elsewhere.
We are indeed fortunate that the energy industry is providing a great deal of immunity to the national financial crisis. It did not happen by accident. A strategic effort to encourage exploration and drilling of natural gas was part of the package enacted to ensure we get the full benefit from the resource God placed beneath our feet.
We have an opportunity to do even more next year. Almost everyone has heard about or seen a commercial about the “Pickens Plan” advocated by Oklahoma oil man T. Boone Pickens.
His plan makes good sense, and is the first comprehensive proposal designed to wean America off expensive foreign oil. It is good for Oklahoma for two reasons.
First, we have more known natural gas reserves under our feet than we have had at any time in our history. New exploration and extraction techniques has discovered and made accessible natural gas that before now was undiscoverable.
Second, his wind generation proposal includes a good part of western Oklahoma. Wind generated electricity is renewable; it will never run out – we simply need improved infrastructure to deliver it.
These are part of Oklahoma’s energy and economic portfolio. In the years ahead, we must continue to make use of the resources we have. More than anything else, that is how we keep moving forward and build a bright future for our children and our children’s children.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week, and may God bless you all.