OKLAHOMA CITY – The Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding recently submitted its final recommendations to the Legislature for the state’s portion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Co-chairs of the Economic Development and Workforce Working Group Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, and Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, praised their colleagues’ dedication to meet Oklahoma’s workforce challenges and strengthen its economy following the pandemic.
“The work done by our joint committee is going to positively impact the lives of Oklahomans for generations to come. I’m especially proud of what we accomplished in our working group because it’s going to transform our state by addressing our greatest workforce challenges through new educational opportunities and innovative job training to support critical, growing industries like aviation, bio tech, cyber security, and manufacturing,” Pugh said. “The pandemic revealed major issues in our state’s workforce, but we have worked tirelessly this past year and collaborated with other local, state, and federal government agencies, common and higher education, and various industries to strategically address these problems. We’ve recommended funding programs that will encourage students to pursue high-demand careers like aerospace engineering, cyber credentialing, and drone technology, while making investments in workforce development and training to meet the needs of our business community and help Oklahomans be successful.”
Some of the workforce initiatives to go before the Legislature in the upcoming special session include:
Baker said the state has been successful in its efforts to recruit more job creators to relocate in Oklahoma but delivering more skilled workers will help further expand those efforts while boosting the state’s economy.
"Training and equipping Oklahoma's workforce is a top priority, and one I believe we can accomplish through these proposed projects," Baker said. "Preparing our students for better, higher-paying jobs improves their lives, their families’ and our entire state. Our robust university and career tech system as well as other entities throughout the state stand ready to help in these endeavors, but they need this additional funding. I'm proud to be one step closer to delivering it to them.”
On Tuesday, the joint committee advanced 13 projects from the Economic Development and Workforce Working Group, totaling close to $178 million. The Legislature will reconvene in special session on Wednesday, Sept. 28, to begin reviewing the joint committee’s project funding recommendations.