State Sen. Clark Jolley has filed legislation designed to jump-start Oklahoma’s economy and offer an even richer college experience for students at state campuses. Senate Bill 2103 would generate additional funding for the Oklahoma for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) Program, Oklahoma’s Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) Fund, as well as endowed chairs at state colleges and universities.
“We all want to do everything in our power to improve Oklahoma’s economy, creating more and better paying jobs that will improve the quality of life of the entire state,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “My proposal would generate an additional $22 to $25 million for OCAST, EDGE and our endowed chairs, all of which are helping create a stronger, more diverse economy.”
Jolley, Co-Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, said his bill calls for interest from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to be divided into three equal parts which will be earmarked for OCAST, the EDGE fund and endowed chairs.
Oklahoma’s EDGE was created in 2003 with the goal of creating a blueprint for the state’s future. To date, more than 100 initiatives have been undertaken to implement the EDGE action plan. OCAST’s mission is the development, transfer and commercialization of technology in Oklahoma, while endowed chairs help bring in nationally and internationally recognized professors to state colleges and universities.
Michael Carolina, Executive Director of OCAST praised the legislation, and said Jolley’s proposal showed visionary leadership in seeking out new approaches to funding research and development critical to Oklahoma’s economic future.
“Additional funds entrusted to OCAST will go as quickly as possible to research and development in ways that bring leveraged money into our state and provide high-skill, high-wage jobs that expand our tax base. Those investments also position Oklahoma as a place where others will look to us as a setting worthy of their personal investment in promising research,” Carolina said.
“Patient, long-term investment in science and technology created what we now recognize as the nation’s top research centers. That approach works the same today as it did when investments were first made in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina, the Austin, Texas research corridor or Silicon Valley in California. I believe as Oklahomans, we will never regret our investments in science and technology--our children and grandchildren will reap the benefits far into the future,” added Carolina.
Hershel Lamirand, president of the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, said Jolley’s proposal could be the most significant development for medical research funding and the creation of new jobs in Oklahoma in recent years.
“Medical research funding creates jobs throughout Oklahoma’s economy. The companies that grow out of research discoveries offer opportunities to college graduates in our state and ripples out to service providers, suppliers, builders and manufacturers. This legislation can make Oklahoma the ‘Research Capital of the Plains.’ It is pro-active, forward thinking and responsible. Long term funding for Oklahoma’s EDGE is vital to Oklahoma’s future. And it doesn’t ask taxpayers for additional dollars. Senator Jolley’s solution is a win/win for everyone,” Lamirand said.
Jolley’s legislation will be heard when the 2008 legislative session begins in February.
“If we truly want to move our state forward, this bill can help us accomplish that goal—a goal I believe every member of the legislature can agree upon. It is my sincere hope that they will support this measure,” Jolley said.