When it comes to energy, Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb not only talks with a lot of it, but believes the state must rely on other industries besides the energy industry.
“Any time we’ve had a dip in the commodity price,” said Lamb in an interview with OK Energy Today, “a lot of state officials have talked in a panic breath, about diversifying our economy and how important it is. When the commodity price ticks up again, you almost hear a collective sigh of relief. Thank goodness the commodity price increased because we have no idea of how to diversify.”
He contends the state has never seriously pursued the diversification. Case in point—-the state of Texas.
“How did they do it? A pro-growth public policy which Oklahoma has caught up with. Lawsuit reform of 2007 and workers comp reform of 2013, but our most important goal should be organic growth in Oklahoma,” said Lamb.
He said the state needs to increase its exports.
“Bio-science is an industry where we’ve an exponential growth. Aerospace and aviation–rich history in Oklahoma but somewhat overshadowed because of our energy industry. And one industry that’s overlooked goes by a lot of names—data processing, information technology or computer sciences.”
But when it comes to the economic challenges of state government, Lamb suggests the legislature is overlooking a major cause of its growing budget holes. Just this year, the legislature struggled with an $878 million budget hole and legislators stripped the wind industry of its tax credits and talked of raising the gross production tax on oil and gas.
“One of the clarion calls this past session was to increase the gross production tax because some folks, they were beside themselves, they said just 2 percent. What I’ve said is if you’re upset about the gross production tax, you should really be upset because the gross production tax is zero percent for wind energy,” he continued.
But what about the billions of dollars in other tax credits that were not touched by legislators?
“You’re right, you’re right,” said the Lt. Gov. “At the same time there was $878 million less for the state government than the year before, state government put $6.9 billion out the door in exemptions, credits and incentives.”
Listen to Jerry Bohnen’s interview with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb.