Hello again, everyone! This is the final week before the 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature begins and I begin spending most of my time in Oklahoma City.
It is clear this will be a challenging session – perhaps as challenging as any in my more than 20 years working in and around the Legislature. The national economic slowdown is creeping into Oklahoma.
We are seeing it in revenue estimates, which are beginning to drop. That will make “Job One” – writing the annual state budget – even more difficult. It is becoming clear that we in the Legislature will have to look at ways to further strengthen Oklahoma’s economy.
Our efforts over the past several years to encourage energy exploration and drilling in Oklahoma have clearly helped us weather the national economic downturn better than most of our sister states. We must continue to enact policies to preserve them. Energy jobs must not, however, be our only focus.
One of the lessons of the economic slowdown of the 1980s was that Oklahoma must have a diversified economy. Over-dependence on any one segment of the economy – putting all our “eggs in one basket” so to speak – puts the entire state economy at risk.
That is why among the bills I have introduced for 2009 are measures to provide added strength to the energy industry and to tweak Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs Act. The idea is to ensure industrial employers beyond the energy industry also get the full benefit of locating jobs in our state.
Job creation and preservation are the best ways we can protect our state budget and – more importantly – family budgets across the state. As we struggle to keep our state afloat in perilous times, we dare not turn our attention away from preserving and protecting the economic strength with which we have been blessed.
I believe job creation and a strong economy go hand-in-hand. That is why many of the bills on which I have worked the hardest have been proposals to strengthen our economy. Those efforts have helped us in this difficult time, and I am confident renewed job-creation and preservation efforts will help bring Oklahoma through the economic challenges we face.
One final note this week: For those of you who check out my website – www.gumm.us – it has not been updated in about a month. That is because a major redesign of the site is about to begin. This current site is loaded with information; the new site will be even more advanced and user friendly.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any comment, question or concern. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My Capitol office can be reached directly at (405) 521-5586 or by an in-district number at (580) 924-2221. You also can send letters to me at State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.