Gov. Henry Proposes Funding for Research and Economic Development

Gov. Brad Henry today encouraged legislators to invest some of the state’s growth and surplus revenue in research and economic development initiatives such as the EDGE fund, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and the Opportunity Fund.
“Our state’s economy is strong, and now is the time to invest in programs that will lay a foundation for prosperity and reap benefits for years to come,” Gov. Henry said. “By investing in research and technology, we will grow the high-skill, high-paying jobs of the future.”
Gov. Henry’s plan would invest $50 million of surplus revenue in the EDGE fund, bringing the total endowment to $200 million.
“Last year, the Legislature got a good start on building the EDGE fund, but we must continue to fund this important initiative to reach the $1 billion endowment recommended by the EDGE task force,” Gov. Henry said.
Gov. Henry is also asking for $24 million in funding for OCAST, a $2 million increase. OCAST is charged with providing grants and capital investment in new technology and research ventures. According to agency figures, every dollar the state invests in OCAST yields a return of more than $17.
“OCAST is one of the best investments we can make in our future to boost economic development and create the kind of high-paying jobs that will keep our children in Oklahoma,” Gov. Henry said.
The governor’s plan would also provide a $15 million appropriation of surplus funds for the Opportunity Fund, and grant the fund bonding authority for up to $200 million. The Opportunity Fund, created last year, provides readily available funds to lure new companies to Oklahoma.
Expenditures are approved by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and the
President Pro-Tempore of the Senate.
MG, which is building a plant in Ardmore and corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, was the first beneficiary of the opportunity fund.
“As we approach our state’s centennial, it is important that we consider not only the next year, but the next 100 years,” Gov. Henry said. “I am asking Legislators to look beyond the present moment and consider the Oklahoma we want to leave our children and grandchildren.”
Gov. Henry will present his proposals to the Legislature on February
5 when the session convenes.

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