September 22, 2009

Fallin: Financial Report Shows Oklahoma Families Need Help

OKLAHOMA CITY – Congresswoman Mary Fallin (OK-05) responded today to Oklahoma’s “C” rating on a national scorecard measuring families’ financial assets, saying that citizens deserve better. The Assets and Opportunity Scorecard was compiled by the Corporation for Enterprise Development and ranked Oklahoma 44th in net worth and income poverty, although the state earned high marks for housing affordability.

“This study highlights the insecurity that so many of our families are dealing with,” said Fallin. “Our middle class, working families are living pay check to pay check, and that is a nerve-racking situation to be in. They may be fine now, but if something happens and they lose their job then they lack a financial safety net, or the whole family loses their health care coverage. In a recession, that’s clearly a possibility. It’s a scary situation and a serious problem, which is exactly why we need a leader who is not going to accept the status quo.”

The report showed that almost one quarter of all Oklahomans lack the net worth to live for three months at the poverty level without income. It also indicated that almost 30 percent of Oklahomans lack a regular checking or savings account.

“Part of this, of course, is personal responsibility,” said Fallin. “We need to encourage our families to start savings accounts, balance their budgets and plan ahead. But the fact of the matter is that it is getting harder to do so with so many forces hitting our wallets at once. We have a national recession that has left many people unemployed or underemployed. The costs of health care go up every year. There are a lot of responsible, working families that are struggling to cope with these costs. They need someone looking out for them in the governor’s office, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.”

Fallin said that attracting more and better jobs would be her top priority, as well as focusing on a general increase in the quality of life.

“If we want to be more prosperous as a state and as a people, we need to bring more business here. It’s not enough to just have any job. We have too many people who are underemployed and collecting lower wages and benefits than they should be. Getting industry to invest in Oklahoma will get skilled workers into better jobs while reducing the overall unemployment rate.

“We also need to pursue free-market reforms on the state level that will reduce the cost of health care and provide immediate relief and greater security to our families, allowing them to save more of their money for a rainy day. That’s how we can move this state forward and these are the goals I will pursue as governor. These are tough times, but that’s no reason for Oklahoma’s families to accept a ‘C’ when it comes to their financial wellbeing."