By Governor Mary Fallin
As many other states struggle to recover from the current recession, Oklahoma continues to build on its forward momentum. The latest evidence of the positive trend in Oklahoma's economy comes in the form of a national survey of small business owners by the Kauffman Foundation, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship, and Thumbtack.com, a national network of small business owners.
In the survey of more than 275,000 small business owners, Oklahoma ranked as the third-best state in the nation for small business creation, receiving an A or A+ for things like ease of starting a small business, cost of hiring a new employee, friendliness of regulations and tax code. In fact, Oklahoma City was the number one city for overall small business friendliness in the country and Oklahoma was in the top 10 for nearly every category and the top 20 for every positive ranking. One small business owner said it best: "I believe that Oklahoma is one of the most supportive states for small businesses."
This is great news and national recognition for the state, but it certainly isn't the first of its kind. Oklahoma continues to enjoy one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, at 5.4 percent. Our state ranks second in job creation and has had the fourth-highest per capita income growth in the United States! People across the country and the world are taking notice.
Forbes recently ranked Tulsa as one of the Top Five "Best Cities for Jobs Right Now" and The Fiscal Times said it was the second-best city for young people to find a job; Moody's Economy.com ranked Lawton the top city for "Cost of Doing Business-State and Local Tax Burden;" Ardmore ranked first for "Cost of Living-Utilities" according to ACCRA Cost of Living Index; Pryor was selected No. 3 in Bloomberg Businessweek's list of "25 Most Affordable Cities;" and Oklahoma City ranked first in the recent Gallup Job Creation Index.
Oklahoma is earning this recognition through our efforts to enact pro-business policies that have created an environment friendly to job creation. Our reforms to the workers' compensation system and landmark lawsuit reforms are helping to lower the cost of doing business in our state. Our government modernizations are saving tax dollars while also improving "customer service" at state agencies. Finally, our education reforms will boost student achievement and improve our schools.
To build on that forward momentum, I'm now seeking further reforms to make Oklahoma more business friendly. Simplifying our tax code and lowering the income tax rate will make us more competitive with neighboring states while letting families keep more of their hard-earned money. The Bridge Improvement and Turnpike Modernization Plan will repair all of the deficient bridges on our highway system and allow us to become a national leader for good roads and bridges. Lastly, our efforts to increase the number of college graduates and degree certificate holders will help us provide the highly skilled and educated workforce employers need to compete globally.
Oklahoma's success is a great economic lesson for other states and for Washington, D.C., where job creation and the economy should be top priorities for lawmakers. Unfortunately, many of those same lawmakers -- especially in the Obama administration -- continue to pursue job-killing over-regulation and failed tax and spend policies.
To discover the recipe for job creation and economic growth, they need only look to Oklahoma. If they do, they'll see that low taxes, limited government and pro-business policies are the recipe for economic success and job creation.