The state took the top spot in GDP growth in 2009, growing at a torrid 6.6 percent clip from the previous year. That compared to a national decline of 2.1 percent. From the BEA:
In contrast to the nation and most states, several states experienced positive real GDP growth in 2009 due to real growth in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting and in mining resulting from sharp declines in prices for petroleum, natural gas, and other mining products in 2009.
Oklahoma had the fastest growth in real GDP in 2009 (6.6 percent). The largest contributor to growth in Oklahoma was mining. Mining was also the leading contributor to growth in Wyoming and Louisiana. Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting was the leading contributor to growth in North Dakota and Nebraska, and was the second largest contributor to growth in South Dakota.
Here’s how the latest GDP figures break down by state (click image for a larger view):
Behind the numbers, we can see that mining (most of which is energy production), accounted for the bulk of the growth in Oklahoma last year. Its growth of 7.23 percentage points from 2008 masked declines in several other sectors, including durable goods manufacturing (down 0.73 percentage points) and real estate rental and leasing (down 0.57 percentage points).
More telling is how much the mining sector (a.k.a. energy) now accounts for in Oklahoma’s economy. As you can see from the following chart, mining almost tripled its share from 4.72 percent in 1997 to 13.81 percent in 2009. Government — at the federal, state and local levels — remained fairly steady at 17 percent of the state’s economy. Manufacturing still claims a large share, although that fell to 11.3 percent in 2009, down from 14.3 percent in 1997.
Click image for a larger view.
This is a longer version of what appeared in Sunday’s paper:
- Search an online database of companies claiming Quality Jobs rebates
- View the Quality Jobs contract for the NBA’s Thunder basketball team
- View the Quality Jobs contract for Boeing Co.
By PAUL MONIES
pmonies (at) opubco.com
Oklahoma’s longtime economic development incentive for creating jobs paid $54 million in cash rebates to companies last year despite the state’s budget crunch.
But economic development officials and some economists say that was money well spent for the Quality Jobs program, which began in 1994 and has been copied in other states.
Under the program, companies can receive quarterly cash rebates of up to 6 percent of payroll after creating jobs with health care benefits and above-average wages. A sister program helps small employers.
Among the largest claimants last year were some of Oklahoma’s most high-profile employers, according to data from the state Tax Commission.
The owners of the NBA’s Thunder basketball team received $5.28 million in Quality Jobs rebates, leading all companies. Dell Inc. received almost $3.7 million, while SandRidge Energy Inc. received $3.3 million. Spirit Aerosystems Inc., with factories in Tulsa and McAlester, had $2.4 million in rebates.
An expansion of the program, called 21st Century Quality Jobs, was instrumental in landing more than 550 new jobs at Boeing Co. in Oklahoma City. Those jobs upgrading the C-130 and B-1 military aircraft are coming from Long Beach, Calif.
The 21st Century Quality Jobs program allows rebates of up to 10 percent, but the new jobs must pay at least three times the average county wage. In Oklahoma County, that’s about $94,400.
“When you compare all the things that companies compare, the incentives certainly made our business case for Oklahoma much, much stronger,” said Mike Emmelhainz, Boeing’s site director for Oklahoma City. “This has been a solid location for a very long time, but the folks have worked hard in establishing themselves as a good place for Boeing to do business and maintain the Boeing reputation.”
Emmelhainz said the incentives helped Boeing’s Oklahoma City location bid for expanded jobs within the company. That was important given the Pentagon’s emphasis on keeping older aircraft serviceable in a tough budget environment.
“Given shrinking or flat budgets, your ability to go build new platforms and products gets tougher and tougher,” he said. “You have to keep your existing inventory of platforms operational and flying. They need the people that supply them to do it in the most cost-effective manner they can.”
Boeing has been part of the older Quality Jobs program and has received rebates of $3.8 million since 2007, according to Tax Commission records. The company also is talking to Oklahoma City officials about getting local incentives for the new jobs from California. Both sides hope to finish those negotiations by the end of the year.
Program is a model
Economic development incentives of all types have drawn scrutiny as the state’s finances took a hit from the recession. Lawmakers placed a moratorium on several tax credits in the last legislative session. Although another budget hole is expected for the upcoming fiscal year, some are calling on the state to expand Quality Jobs and use it as a model for other state incentives.
Robert Dauffenbach, an economist at the University of Oklahoma, studied the effectiveness of Quality Jobs along with Larkin Warner, a retired economist from Oklahoma State University. A report they issued in 2004 found the program had benefited both employment and tax revenue in its first decade.
Both men are part of the state’s Incentive Review Committee, which is studying the Quality Jobs program this year.
“There can be a lethargy that develops once a program gets put in place,” Dauffenbach said of some incentive programs. “Some of them get grandfathered in forever and there’s no sunset provision or mechanism for evaluation.”
Dauffenbach said Quality Jobs continues to get high marks for transparency and for not issuing cash rebates until companies actually add new jobs. The analysis used by the state Commerce Department to determine the percentage of the rebate also is fairly conservative, he said.
Is it worth it?
Still, some economists wonder if the state is rewarding behavior that would have happened anyway without the incentive. Mickey Hepner, an economist and associate professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, said programs such as Quality Jobs spread the costs among the entire population but the gains go to a small group.
“A vast majority of the jobs that are claimed under the program are not actually created by the program, and they’re not created as a result of the program,” Hepner said. “A lot of those jobs would have been created anyway.”
For example, a company that planned to add 100 jobs could add another five jobs under Quality Jobs, he said. But the company would receive rebates on all 105 jobs, not just the five additional jobs that resulted from the incentives.
“We get the press releases about new jobs, but it’s tougher to get the true cost of the program,” Hepner said. “For $50 million a year, you could eliminate the franchise tax, which would be much more effective and much more equitable to all businesses in the state.”
Hepner said it’s easy for lawmakers to expand Quality Jobs because the money for it is not subject to annual appropriations. The money for the rebates comes from state income tax revenues.
When Oklahoma is competing against surrounding states for new businesses, it helps to have programs such as Quality Jobs, said Mike Southard, president and chief executive officer of the Ada Jobs Foundation. The program allowed local manufacturers to expand their operations in Ada by putting more employees on the payroll. Those employees then spend more money in the community and pay taxes to the state and local governments, he said.
“It’s not like these companies are saving that 5 percent and putting it in their pocket. They’re able to put it into capital or debt service, and that strengthens their business.”
Southard said he understands the arguments against economic development incentives. But the rhetoric used to attack them can make businesses wary of expanding.
“Elected officials have to figure out how to solve both short-term and long-term financial issues,” Southard said. “Everybody who runs talks about better employment opportunities and creating higher-paying jobs. When we’re competing with other states that are also going after those projects, you don’t want to take tools out of your toolbox.”
The state Election Board has released a large amount of data from races across the state that is now available on its website. You can check out PDFs of county results for each race, and download precinct-level data for further analysis if you have a database program such as Microsoft Access.
In contrast to my earlier map of county-by-county results, here’s a precinct-level map of the gubernatorial race between Republican Mary Fallin and Democrat Jari Askins. Click image for a closer view.
As you can see, Oklahoma is still overwhelmingly a red state, although there are pockets of blue scattered among precincts in southwestern and southeastern Oklahoma, as well as some urban precincts in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Interestingly, some of the purple, tied precincts had hundreds of votes. Precinct 511 in Caddo County gave both Fallin and Askins 352 votes each. Precinct 60 in Pontotoc County gave the candidates 244 votes each. Over in Cherokee County, voters in Precinct 22 split 85-85.
Meanwhile, political blogger Jamison Faught has a nice set of election maps over at his site, The Musings of Muskogee Politico.
You can download a large PDF of the above precinct-level results for governor here. (2MB PDF file)
My coworker Matt Dinger has an interesting story in today’s paper about how Oklahoma City police have designated an incident report written about an investigation into the killing of a woman in northwest Oklahoma City.
Rather than release reports from the first officers on the scene, the police decided that a report written by the officer who put up crime scene tape should be the primary report. All others, including those that may contain more information about the death, have been designated “supplemental” reports and not subject to the Open Records Act:
Reports from the officers who went inside the house, a police lieutenant and the watch commander, are considered supplemental and are not public record, Oklahoma City police Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow said Monday.
I understand the police need to keep certain details secret during an investigation, but this strikes me as a rather underhanded way for the police to control the normal flow of information. What do you think?
I tend to get a little obsessive post-election with all the new data coming out from Tuesday’s results. On that note, here’s a couple of new maps based on the latest Republican gains in the Oklahoma House and Senate.
The House will welcome 20 new faces later this month when they get sworn in. Sixteen will be Republicans; Democrats held on to four open seats.
Over in the Senate, there are nine new members, all Republicans. Three of the new members in the Senate did not face an opponent in the general election.
This is the last election based on the current district lines because new Census data will come out soon. Lawmakers and staff will work on redistricting next year based on the latest population shifts.
Blue is Democrat, red is Republican and the shaded areas represent GOP gains in the following images. Click each one for a larger view.
In her 20-point win, Gov.-elect Mary Fallin colored the Oklahoma map red–but not completely. She won all but four counties, according to preliminary totals compiled by the Associated Press early this morning.
Fallin won 55 counties by double digits. As you can see, she also performed well in Little Dixie, a longtime Democratic stronghold, although her lead wasn’t as big as it was in the Panhandle or the northwest part of the state. Askins won Comanche County by just 123 votes, according to the AP tally.
Below is a quick map I put together showing Fallin’s percentage-point leads over Jari Askins in each county. Click the image for a larger view.
The following are preliminary county totals for the Oklahoma gubernatorial race as provided by the AP shortly before 10 p.m.
Well, it’s Election Day, so any last-minute contributions now won’t be much help to candidates unless they’re trying to pay off campaign debts. So far, more than $1.7 million was given in the last two weeks of the election to candidates of all stripes–statewide, House, Senate, judges and district attorneys.
Here’s how the giving broke down by party:
Meanwhile, here’s how it looks for statewide and legislature candidates:
So far, more than $1.6 million has come in last-minute contributions to Oklahoma candidates since Oct. 19. Here’s a quick breakdown of the types of contributions for all candidates through Oct. 31. The data is from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
This is a slightly longer version of Sunday’s story:
BY PAUL MONIES
pmonies (at) opubco.com
Outside political groups have spent more than $1.2 million in the closing weeks of the Oklahoma elections, with GOP gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin the biggest beneficiary.
Groups as varied as individuals, business associations and companies have bought commercials, newspaper ads and direct mail, hoping to push their favored candidates or issues as many voters began paying attention to November’s races.
The messages, called independent expenditures or electioneering communications, have been legal for a number of years. But a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed companies and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on those types of independent political messages.
Among the biggest spenders in Oklahoma have been national groups such as the Republican Governors Association and the Republican State Leadership Committee. The Republican Governors Association spent $438,000 on television ads calling Fallin’s opponent, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jari Askins, “too liberal” for Oklahoma and tying her to President Barack Obama.
Oklahoma companies, tribes and individuals contributed more than $2.2 million to the Republican Governors Association since January 2009, according to an analysis of filings with the Internal Revenue Service.
The Republican State Leadership Committee spent $150,000 in mid-October on television ads supporting Scott Pruitt, the GOP candidate for attorney general.
Court decision prompts groups
A local group, the Senate Majority Fund, began operations in late August. It has spent more than $117,000 on TV commercials, radio ads and direct mail to support GOP Senate candidates or oppose their Democratic opponents.
“We’ve got a group of several people, some who have previously served in elected capacity and some like me who are volunteers, that want to help promote conservative Oklahoma values,” said Chip Dudley, chairman of the Senate Majority Fund. “We formed this entity and we’ve had some professionals help us raise money so we could try to influence some races and support the things we believe in.
“The Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. FEC, is what paved the way for these types of expenditures.”
Meanwhile, The State Chamber spent more than $66,000 on ads for several legislative candidates. It also spent $90,000 on independent expenditures to support State Question 752, which would add two non-attorney members to the state’s Judicial Nomination Commission.
Fred Morgan, president and chief executive officer of The State Chamber, said the independent expenditures are just the latest effort by the chamber to develop a “pro-business” legislature. The chamber has been involved in developing a voter education and outreach program called the Prosperity Project. It also has provided support for a yearly score card of lawmakers compiled by the Research Institute for Economic Development.
“Prior to Citizens United, the business community was allowed to use corporate funds for issue advocacy but not for candidate advocacy,” Morgan said. “Citizens United opened up the opportunity to direct independent expenditures to candidates, and we did take advantage of that.”
“If you look at our ads, we decided to only do positive ads that involved economic growth and jobs.”
The money for the independent expenditures came from the dues of chamber members, Morgan said.
None of the independent expenditures or electioneering communications can be coordinated with candidate campaigns, said Marilyn Hughes, executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Unlike political action committees, most groups sponsoring independent expenditures do not have to register and file contribution reports with the Ethics Commission. However, they do have to file disclosure reports within 24 hours after spending money.
Generally, independent expenditures include a call to action to support or oppose an issue or candidate, Hughes said. Electioneering communications can mention candidates but don’t advocate their support or defeat.
The groups paying for independent expenditures do not include the National Education Association, which has contributed more than $3.2 million to help pass State Question 744. Those donations went to the Yes on 744 political action committee, which wants to see per-pupil education funding in Oklahoma raised to at least the regional average.
Political action committees are allowed to make independent expenditures. For example, the Republican State House Committee has spent almost $136,000 in the last week on independent expenditures for 10 House GOP candidates in close races.
Some individuals also spent money on independent expenditures, according to Ethics Commission filings. Among them were Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, who took out more than $19,000 in ads supporting State Question 744 in Tulsa and Oklahoma City newspapers. Trae Gray, a Coalgate trial lawyer, spent almost $850 on newspaper ads supporting Askins and incumbent state Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant.
Gray, who handles many eminent domain or condemnation cases on behalf of landowners in southeast Oklahoma, said he likes both Fallin and Askins. But Gray doesn’t want to see Republicans in charge of both the Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion.
“I think it’s real important that we maintain some balance,” said Gray, who also serves on the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission. “That’s the primary reason I was supportive of Sen. Gumm and (Lt.) Gov. Askins. This was the best I could do to fight back against what I perceive to be a lot of money thrown in by the Republican Party right now.”
The Oklahoman’s Watchdog Team: Looking out for you. Visit http://www.newsok.com/watchdog