The Edmond Sun


March 17, 2014

Fallin pushes workforce initiative in Edmond

EDMOND — Gov. Mary Fallin discussed workforce development plans Friday with city leaders at the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce.

Policies to create a better business climate have been enacted during her administration to both retain and create jobs in Oklahoma, said Fallin, a 2014 candidate for re-election.

Democratic state Sen. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, announced his candidacy as a gubernatorial contender in the state primary election set for June 24. Independent Richard Prawdzienksi of Edmond is also a contender.

“We did something that has been a top agenda item for this chamber and many other chambers across the state,” Fallin said. “And that is to overhaul our worker’s compensation system.”

More jobs are being created as a result of lawsuit and worker’s compensation reform, she said. Lawsuit reform and workers compensation reform has made Oklahoma more attractive to businesses thinking about locating here, she said.

An administrative system will not only protect injured workers but also will lower premium costs for businesses, Fallin said.

Education is key for producing a skilled workforce for tomorrow’s jobs, she noted. Having the best teachers in the classroom and making sure children can read at a grade appropriate level is something Oklahoma must do.

Oklahoma competes against other states as well as the global economy, Fallin said. America is falling behind, she said.

“If our children can’t read, they can’t learn the math and science and the other things they need,” Fallin said. “So that when they become seniors and take their SAT and ACT, they get into a Career Technology school, or they can go on to UCO or some other higher education institution in the state of Oklahoma.”

Edmond Public Schools provided information to the 50 or so attendants at the chamber. Since Fiscal Year 2008-09, state lawmakers have cut public school funding by 23 percent, more than any other state, according to the material.

“Public schools’ share of the state budget has shrunk from 38 percent to under 34 percent of total allocations,” the paper stated. As a result, Edmond Public Schools face a $4 million budget reduction as the student population grows.

Meanwhile, while state of Oklahoma’s revenue is up, the state faces a $188 million budget shortfall this year.

“This year we got a little bit of a downturn, not because of stuff we’re doing in Oklahoma, but because of Washington,” Fallin said. “We’ve got sequestration. We’ve got Obamacare. We’ve got military cuts.”

Uncertainty and talk about climate change and fracking has consequences when you have that type of debate in Washington, D.C., she said.

The best way out of poverty is to get a job, Fallin said. So her administration has been focusing on education outcomes. Business across the state tell her they cannot find the skilled workers they need to  hire for jobs that are available, Fallin said.

“There is a disconnect between what employers need and want and some of our friends and colleagues that are looking for jobs,” Fallin said.

A high school diploma was adequate for the skills needed for 75 percent of jobs in the U.S. a half-century ago, she continued. Today that number is only 35 percent. The technology driven world today depends less on manual labor and more on education, she said.

Two-thirds all jobs taken by people who ended their education after graduating from high school pay $25,000 a year or less, Fallin said.

“That won’t get people to the American dream,” Fallin said. “We see them in our welfare systems, Medicaid, sometimes in prison, poverty. So our challenge is how do we align our K-12, our career technology schools, our higher education to meet the needs of employers?”

Fifty-four percent of Oklahomans have attained something more than a high school degree, Fallin said. Seventy-seven percent of jobs in Oklahoma will need more than a high school degree by 2020, Fallin said.

In facing the challenge, Fallin said she is bringing K-12 educators together with leaders in career technology, higher education, business and public policy officials to discuss how to help children have a brighter future.

Complete College America is a program that was launched on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma two years ago. A goal was set to increase the number of degrees and certificates from Career Tech and higher education.

Oklahoma typically produces an average of about 30,500 degrees and certificates each year. Fallin said the state’s college presidents and technology directors aimed to increase those degrees and certificates to 50,000 in the first 10 years.

“We set a goal that first year of 1,700 new certificates and degrees,” Fallin said. “We didn’t do 1,700; we did 2,900 the first year. So we beat our goal by 71 percent.”

Text Only
  • A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings

    On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
    Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

    Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
    A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.

    July 22, 2014

  • June healthy month for Oklahoma jobs

    Nearly 10,000 new jobs in Oklahoma were created in June, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
    Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the state experienced one of the largest increases in employment in the nation in June. More than 9,600 additional people joined the state’s workforce in June.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest ratio in six years. June’s rate was down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May and April, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

    July 22, 2014

  • UCO campus 3.jpg University of Central Oklahoma recognized as having friendly work environment

    The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Central Oklahoma as one of the “2014 Great Colleges to Work For.” Central is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the Honor Roll for being cited most often among all the recognition categories.          
    Central joins Duke, Baylor and Notre Dame on the list of the 10 universities named to the large institution honor roll.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council approves funds toward ADA update

    City Council members have approved a $398,800 professional services contract with Accessology, a McKinney, Texas, firm, to establish an Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan for the city.
    Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. It includes access to government facilities, programs and events and relevant policy changes.
    Accessology was selected out of a pool of five finalists by a five-member committee to create Edmond’s plan. The firm will partner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, a design consulting firm located in North Carolina.
    Edmond’s last ADA transition plan was created in 1992.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel approves jail services agreement

    City Council members have approved renewal of the city’s jail services agreement with Oklahoma County for prisoners incarcerated at the county jail on city charges.
    The current annual agreement expired June 30. It provides the feeding, care, housing and upkeep of said prisoners. Edmond uses the county jail when the city jail is at capacity.
    The sheriff’s office proposed a slight increase from $46.25 to a $46.50 daily rate per prisoner. City staff said the current agreement is working satisfactorily and believe the proposed rate is reasonable. The new agreement took effect July 1. The city can hold prisoners in its current jail  up to 10 days; a new jail with 10 male and five female cells will be available inside the new Public Safety Center next year when the facility opens.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel establishes 911 phone rate

    City Council members have established the rate for the 911 emergency phone service fee for calendar year 2015
    Council members set the rate at 3 percent of the recurring charges as designated by the tariff for exchange telephone service or its equivalent within Edmond beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
    Fees collected by wireless and voice over Internet protocol companies are established under a separate statute. To continue collection of the locally authorized service fee on landline phone bills, local governments must approve a resolution on an annual basis to set the actual fee.
    Governments must also through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments notify the appropriate incumbent local exchange carrier and competitive local exchange carrier phone companies by Sept. 1, 2015.
    ACOG recommended for calendar year 2015 to maintain service fees at their current level of 3 percent.

    July 21, 2014

  • Council approves $2.5M extra for utility

    City Council members have approved the transfer of a $2.5 million appropriation for Edmond Electric.
    The action was needed due to higher natural gas prices. Those increased prices caused wholesale electric purchase costs to exceed the department’s budget estimates for Fiscal Year 2013-14. To cover the increased costs, a transfer of funds from the “Transfers” category to the “Other Services and Charges” category was necessary.
    It will maintain state law requirements and not increase Edmond Electric’s budget.
    The action occurred during Monday’s meeting and was approved unanimously.

    July 21, 2014

  • The Escape Edmond entrepreneurs sleuth their way to success led Andrew Gipson to an industrial complex outside of Dublin, Ireland, about a year ago. The recent University of Central Oklahoma graduate was in the midst of an extended stay in Australia and the United Kingdom when he walked through the doors of XIT Live Escape Adventure Game. According to Tripdadvisor, it was the top attraction in Ireland. He had to go.
    An hour later, Gipson, 24, exited the facility inspired.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • McAlister’s Deli sets ‘Free Tea Day’ for July 24

    McAlister’s Deli, a leading fast casual restaurant, will celebrate its sixth annual Free Tea Day on July 24.

    July 19, 2014

  • Steffen and Farrow Steffen and Farrow celebrates 40th anniversary

    Steffen and Farrow Orthodontics recently had a ribbon cutting at its Edmond location, 1601 S. Boulevard, to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo