Henry promotes funding for EDGE program

Published: Friday, February 20, 2009 7:00 am By: Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman

Gov. Brad Henry urged a gathering of civic and business leaders Thursday at the annual Greater Oklahoma City Chamber chairman's breakfast to support a permanent funding for the EDGE economic development endowment fund even as the state grapples with a $900 million hole in its budget.

Henry did not address priorities announced at the start of the breakfast by chamber Chairman David Thompson, a list that includes familiar returning targets such as tort and workers' compensation reform and funding to complete a new downtown boulevard and a junction at Lincoln Boulevard and the new Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway.

'Doing pretty good'
Henry repeated his vow to oppose tapping into the state's $600 million Rainy Day Fund, noting the state went through a tougher economic climate in 2003 when the fund was virtually depleted.

Henry instead urged support for taking interest from the fund, which now goes into the general revenue stream, and committing it to the EDGE fund.

"We cannot lose sight that it's a truly exciting time for Oklahoma," Henry said. "In spite of us having a challenging economy, we're doing pretty good."

Henry reminded the crowd that while Kansas, California and other states are dealing with massive budget shortfalls in the current fiscal year, Oklahoma is expected to end the year without any major budget hole.

He attributed the state's relative stability to conservative fiscal policy that includes limiting spending to 95 percent of revenues.

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