By Governor Mary Fallin
Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is on its way. This is a great time of year to reflect on all of God's blessings and to be thankful for what we have.
Like many Oklahomans, I am thankful for my faith, my wonderful family, and my friends. I am also thankful for the opportunity to be your governor.
Oklahoma is a special state. We are a community of generous and caring individuals. I am thankful for that sense of community, and for the Oklahoma Standard which it represents.
It was that sense of resilience and compassion that allowed us to recover and rebuild so quickly in the wake of the May tornadoes. The tragedy of those storms was devastating; but the volunteer spirit, the fearlessness of our first responders, and the generosity of our people was inspiring. Today, organizations like the OKStrong Disaster Relief Fund run by the United Way have raised millions of dollars for families affected by the storms. I am thankful for anyone who participated in that relief and recovery effort.
Storm recovery is just one example of Oklahomans taking care of their neighbors. I continue to be thankful -- and amazed -- by how successful each year's Feeding Oklahoma Food Drive has been because of our generous individuals and businesses. It is a sad truth that one in four Oklahoma children suffers from food insecurity. To help feed those children, as well as their parents, Oklahomans contributed over 3.1 million meals, right on time for the holiday season.
I am also thankful for the industriousness of our people, their hardworking nature, and the tremendous results which their work has sown.
In 2009, Oklahoma followed the rest of the nation into a deep and damaging recession. For the last three years, we have put that recession behind us, dramatically outpacing national growth.
Since 2011, our unemployment rate has fallen from 7 percent to just 5.3 percent, one of the best rates in the nation.
Our Rainy Day Savings Account has risen from $2.03 to over $530 million.
Oklahoma families have seen their incomes rise by 8 percent since 2011, meaning they have thousands more dollars to save or invest. That growth is extraordinary, especially given challenging national economic circumstances. In fact, Governing Magazine recently identified Oklahoma as one of only three states to see average wages increase during the period of 2007 to 2012.
I am thankful that Oklahoma and Oklahoma families are on the rise.
At the state Capitol, we are working hard to support and sustain this forward momentum. We've pursued tax cuts and eliminated barriers to job creation by pursuing legal reform and reducing red tape. We are delivering smart, balanced budgets that eliminate government waste and inefficiencies. And we're also making the investments we need in our schools, because nothing is more important to getting a good job with a living wage than education.
All of this is part of what I call the Oklahoma Comeback. As we move towards the New Year, I'm thankful and proud to have been part of one of the country's greatest success stories. I hope you are too!