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February 5, 2013

Fallin: Oklahoma economy is flourishing

OKLAHOMA CITY — The state of Oklahoma is strong and Gov. Mary Fallin asked legislators to continue making it stronger at the governor’s annual State of the State address Monday at the state Capitol.

Oklahoma state government has helped the state’s economy flourish, she said. State government has set the stage for job creation and personal income growth and has restored the state’s economy to 2008 pre-recession job levels, Fallin said.

“We have achieved those results by prioritizing our spending, promoting pro-business policy and lowering taxes,” Fallin said.

Fallin asked legislators to reduce the top income tax bracket from 5.25 percent to 5 percent. This reduction would result after the first $8,700 of income made by every Oklahoma taxpayer, she said.

The fourth highest job growth rate belongs to Oklahoma with more than 62,400 new jobs created in two years, Fallin said.

Data found at www.okcommerce.gov shows that aerospace, defense, energy, agriculture, biosciences, information and financial services, transportation and distribution offer the greatest potential for generating wealth and jobs in Oklahoma, Fallin said.

“All children deserve a world-class education, regardless of their ZIP code. We believe great schools make great students, which make great communities and a stronger state,” Fallin said.

One way to further strengthen Oklahoma’s work force is by emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math at all levels of public education, Fallin said. Jobs in these fields are growing three times faster than other jobs, Fallin continued.

“Unemployment in Oklahoma has been reduced by 30 percent from a high of 7 percent at the end of 2010 to an enviable 5.7 percent today — one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation,” Fallin said.

Fallin proposed a $13.5 million increase to education to fund recently enacted reforms, as well as an $8.5 million supplemental funding request to pay for teachers’ health benefits.

Families are the strength of Oklahoma, Fallin said. Oklahoma’s median family household income has risen by $4,000 since 2011 to place the state No. 1 in the U.S. for per capita income growth for families, she said.

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