Gov. Mary Fallin spent the larger part of the first five months of 2015 trying to patch together a fiscal year 2016 budget that accounts for a $611 million drop in general revenue.
Now, with the budget written and the Legislature adjourned, Fallin says she’s trying to address the problem another way — by putting people to work.
“I warned my commerce secretary (Deby Snodgrass) months ago to get ready because I want to follow and tackle every job I can, especially because of the depression in the energy sector,” Fallin said Tuesday at Tulsa Technology Center’s Lemley Campus, 3420 S. Memorial Drive.
“I’ve personally been meeting with people, hosting them at the governor’s mansion, meeting them for dinner, doing whatever I need to do to close the deal.
“And we have some pretty big deals in the making.”
Fallin was in Tulsa for the third of three job and resource fairs she has sponsored statewide over the past two weeks.
The first two were in Elk City and Enid.
The fairs not only match those looking for jobs with potential employers, but with resources to help them in their search.
Many of those coming to the events have lost their jobs because of the slowdown in oil and gas exploration, Fallin said.
On Tuesday, several people approached her with resumes and said they had been laid off from energy-related jobs.
But one man told Fallin there weren’t enough jobs for people like him — middle-aged and hampered by disabilities — and another said he’d been in the state less than two days.
Fallin listened and then tried to direct them to someone who could help.
“Today the response has been upbeat from people looking for jobs, because they’ve been able to meet with people who actually have job openings,” Fallin said.
In a few days, Fallin will be attending the Paris Air Show, which has become a major meeting place for international business, especially the aviation sector.
“We have about $1.6 billion in potential international investment,” Fallin said. “This is not something that’s speculative. I’ve met with these companies in Oklahoma for site visits.”
Although state funding for education and training remains tight and in some cases less than a few years ago, Fallin said the state’s workforce remains an asset in business recruitment.
“One of my strongest selling points for Oklahoma is that we do have a very specific goal for raising our work skills, or education levels for the state,” Fallin said. “And we have actually exceeded those goals.”