Gov. Brad Henry discussed national economy impact

Thursday, October 9th 2008, 2:35 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Gov. Brad Henry and State Treasurer Scott Meacham discussed the national economic downturn's impact on Oklahoma interests at a State Capitol press conference Thursday afternoon.

"Our economy in this great state remains strong," Henry said.

The governor discussed how income, housing prices and state revenues are remaining stable and strong. According to Henry, Oklahoma is well positioned against an economic storm.

Darlene Pettit is a mother to eight children, and between a $200-a-week grocery bill and filling up her SUV every three days, her budget is strained.

"I try to not let it get to me though," Pettit said. "I just try to keep it as low as possible; it's working so far even though it's hard."

Pettit said she believes Oklahoma's economy is strong but hopes for better times to come.

"I'm taking it day by day already. Hopefully I'll pray I get there and work a job that has a retirement plan, but I don't have that right now," Pettit said.

Henry admitted Oklahomans' 401-Ks have taken a hit and the state is also having trouble selling bonds to raise capital.

He said there is over $600 million in the state's rainy day fund, which will provide a cushion for the state during the current financial crisis. For the first time since 1961, Oklahoma has seen an increase in its credit.

Henry urged that we need to protect people's assets, their pensions and jobs, and state assets.

He announced State Treasurer Scott Meacham will head an in-depth comprehensive study on the economic health of Oklahoma to review the state's assets and determine actions and solutions to mitigate any damages from the national economy.

"Oklahoma is better prepared than most any other state in the country to weather this economic storm," Henry said.

Meacham said this is a historic time in our nation, and a historic time in Oklahoma with regard to the economic downturn. The state treasurer said financing will be the challenge in the coming months.

"Economics, at the end of the day, is really about psychology" Meacham said.

He said Oklahoma's economy is strong and growing, and proof is in the state's strong revenue.
The state treasurer also discusses bond issues. So far, the state has been able to work out solutions to prevent a significant impact from any bond issues.

Although retired teachers and state and city employees are worried about pensions, Meacham said "on pensions you have absolutely nothing to worry about." The state is monitoring pensions and looking for ways to make those funds more secure.

"I urge that the media and everyone be responsible with the things we report. The more we stick to the facts, in Oklahoma, we have a good story to tell," Henry said.

By talking to state holders and different groups, the governor and state treasurer hope to come up with tangible solutions to provide some liquidity and help better manage state funds.

"We are fortunate in Oklahoma to have Scott Meacham as our state treasurer. There is not a brighter financial mind in state government than Scott Meacham. I urge him to continue what we have been doing, and take stock and inventory of our situation and mitigate impacts from a national and international economic downturn," Henry said.

"Oklahomans have faced many, many adversities, and Oklahomans have always come through those adversities. We will get through this economic crisis in Oklahoma. We'll be stronger for having endured the adversity together."