Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Keating Backs Extending Turnpikes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Keating Backs Extending Turnpikes

Article excerpt

Gov. Frank Keating said Wednesday he supports extending Oklahoma City's Kilpatrick Turnpike and Tulsa's Creek Turnpike as part of an overall economic development effort.

Keating's comments came at the Oklahoma City Downtown College Consortium "Lunch with the Governors" series. During the session, Keating addressed a number of economic development issues, including education, taxes, right to work and road construction.

He said that several years ago, he supported a planned expansion of the Kilpatrick and the Creek turnpikes but found that no one was following the charge he was leading. Nonetheless, the state must have a solid infrastructure of roads. "That is important. It's very important for economic development," he said. He said that prior to his taking office, very little had been spent on transportation infrastructure. He was able to convince the Legislature to approve $20 million or so for the first two years of his administration and then in the 1997 session got approval for a $1 billion project. "The fact is we had starved our infrastructure," he said. "This (billion dollar) road construction proposal is the largest road construction program in Oklahoma in history." He pointed out Oklahoma's average per capita income is about 80 percent of the nation's. "We've created 76,000 jobs," he said. "That's fine but the question is how much do they pay? "Over the course of the last three legislative sessions, I think we've done a lot to address the issue of income disparity." Other issues that must be addressed in order to advance economic development are: right to work, tax policy and education. He said approval of right to work would send a message to business and industry that the Sooner State is "open for business." He noted some companies are not as interested in the issue as others, but in the manufacturing sector it is an important matter. Tax policy is something that should be addressed. He pointed out Texas has no personal or corporate income tax, while Oklahoma's income tax is one of the highest in the nation in terms of its rates charged the poor. …

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