OK Lawmakers Draw Opposite Views from Business Friendly Ranking

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Two state senators produced opposing spins on a report ranking Oklahoma as one of the top 10 business friendly states.

Oklahoma is in dire need of economic reforms despite placing 10th in the report by Pollina Corporate Real Estate, said state Sen. Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow.

State Sen. Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, said the report shows the positive results of the Legislature's actions.

We should all be promoting the positives of this report and our top 10 ranking, but Oklahoma's lack of workers comp reform, lack of comprehensive lawsuit reform, and our high income tax rate are big reasons why we still rank near the bottom nationally in job growth and wages, Pruitt said Tuesday.

He noted Oklahoma's place this year represented a decline from last year's survey.

The biggest reason for the drop from number three to number 10 in just one year is Oklahoma's extremely poor rating on workers compensation rates, which the Pollina report ranks as 39th nationally, said Pruitt.

Oklahoma's workers compensation system encourages litigation, he said, which makes it a boon for trial lawyers, but a bust for employers and injured workers.

Rabon countered that Oklahoma being ranked as one of the top 10 business friendly states did not occur overnight.

The state's outstanding showing in the annual rankings by Pollina Corporate Real Estate was the result of work by the Legislature to foster an environment to grow existing Oklahoma businesses and attract new firms, he said.

Things like this just don't happen, Rabon said. We're in the top 10 for the second year in a row because of the pro-business programs - like Quality Jobs law and targeted incentives - and because we've worked hard to manage our capital and use our resources wisely.

Rabon served as the state Senate Finance Committee chairman the past two years.

The Pollina report, released last week, gave Oklahoma high marks for targeted tax incentives, an abundance of quasi-governmental economic development organizations, and low costs for real estate and living expenses.

The great fear is that the governor's office or the Senate Democrat leadership might use the Pollina ranking as an excuse to oppose meaningful workers comp reform - or to pass a watered-down version of the legislation that does little or nothing to get our economy moving, Pruitt said.

Despite our number 10 ranking as a business friendly state, we ranked 48th in job creation, he pointed out. …