Sen. Chris Kidd Report
Sen. Chris Kidd Report

Oklahoma has received some good news in recent weeks.

In 2004, the state had the 49th worst highway bridge system in the nation with nearly 1,200 (of 6,800) considered structurally deficient. That number has decreased to only 86 highway bridges needing major rehabilitation or replacement, which are all scheduled in ODOT’s Eight-Year Plan. Oklahoma now ranks 9th nationally according to the Federal Highway Administration giving the state a Top 10 status for the first time in state history.

LOST WAGES ASSISTANCE

Act, which created a council to study access around the state. One of the first things companies look at when considering relocation is a state’s connectivity. It has also become painfully obvious this year with so many citizens trying to file for unemployment online, people teleworking and many schools going virtual that Oklahoma needs to improve its broadband access.

In today’s digital world, everyone must have access to the internet. The 13-member council will work to create a strategic plan to improve connectivity statewide. They will submit their annual report and recommendations by January 31.

LOFT

The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) also announced its work plan for the current fiscal year, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also approved Oklahoma for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, which will provide an additional $300 a week for unemployed Oklahomans. This replaces the $600 per week that workers received under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which expired the last week of July.

If you’re still waiting for unemployment for dates prior to August, you’ll receive the $600 extra and then the $300 will kick in for dates after that. Again, please contact my office if you’re having trouble securing your unemployment. We’re here to help you however we can.

STATE ECONOMY

Our state economy is slowly recovering. Unemployment rates are lowering, and our July General Revenue Fund (GRF) collections came in nearly $69 million or 9.5% above the monthly estimate at $790.5 million. This was also $290.8 million higher than July 2019 collections. While this was mainly caused by the delayed income taxes and deferred first-quarter payments, it’s still promising news.

We must proceed cautiously, though, as the energy and business sectors continue to struggle. There are still companies facing closure and some considering furloughs and layoffs. On the flipside, there are also companies expanding and relocating to Oklahoma. Leaders have been working hard in recent years to ensure Oklahoma is a business-friendly state and has the workforce and other assets needed to attract companies.