by Fred Morgan
The November elections resulted in a historic level of turnover in the Oklahoma Legislature. More than 58 new legislators were sworn in, and they will be tasked with making decisions that will affect our jobs, our children’s education, health care and much more. After every election, the State Chamber of Oklahoma has hosted a new legislator bootcamp to educate new lawmakers on issues facing the business community. We invite our members to come speak with the newly elected officials and engage them in a dialogue about how we can fuel prosperity and make Oklahoma a premier destination for business. This year, for the first time, we expanded the bootcamp from one-half day to three days to inform and educate these new public servants on the important business issues.
Our goal, at the Chamber, is to ensure that those creating public policy hear the voice of business before casting crucial votes. Although many might think business issues are limited to the budget, tax policy and regulations, the business community also cares deeply about education, health care and transportation. The sum of our parts is what makes businesses in this state prosper. If our education system is failing, we cannot attract businesses to our state. If our workforce is unhealthy, business costs rise and employees suffer. If our roads, bridges and infrastructure can’t compete with surrounding states, we will be unable to move goods to market. The interconnectivity of these issues makes it necessary for businesses to have an ongoing dialogue with elected officials.
Our bootcamp included a diverse group of speakers from the business community who shared their experiences and thoughts on the top ten things Oklahoma needs to produce a stable and thriving economy. They include the following:
- An education system that produces a prepared and skilled workforce
- A reliable transportation and infrastructure system.
- An accessible and affordable health care system
- A strong and stable energy sector
- Economic development tools to expand existing businesses and recruit new ones.
- A government that is efficient, transparent and accountable
- A fair and consistent legal system
- A cost-effective and less burdensome regulatory framework
- A tax system that encourages economic growth
- Successful collaborations by the state, Native American governments and businesses
The robust discussions specifically focused on what tomorrow’s Oklahoma should look like. Thanks to all of the new representatives and senators who participated. I am optimistic and encouraged by the enthusiasm, curiosity and eagerness of this new group. In February, when legislative session commences, the hard work truly begins. We at the State Chamber look forward to working with them to create a better future for Oklahoma.