Two Fallin firsts: Corrections bill allows funds access; Boeing announcement cheered

Last Friday, Governor Mary Fallin’s first signature on legislation (Senate Bill 970) allowed the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to use $5.25 million from a prison industries fund. That action avoided, for now, a supplemental appropriation that had, prior to the 2011 session, been widely anticipated.

Officials say the bill will help avoid additional furloughs in the department, an immediate practical effect of the signing.

Another significant fact is that S.B. 970 enters the history books as the first piece of legislation the Sooner State’s first female governor has signed into law during her term as chief executive.

After she affixed her signature, the following statement was sent to CapitolBeatOK:

“This bill will get the Department of Corrections the funds it needs to safely operate our prisons and prevent additional furloughs. I remain absolutely committed to public safety and I’m glad the department and the Legislature were able to work together with our office to reach this solution.”

While out of town for a family vacation, Fallin missed some of the excitement of a week that brought some unusually contentious proceedings in the state House of Representatives. However, soon after she got off the plane when her family returned from overseas, she was able to celebrate a major jobs announcement from Boeing Company on Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17).

The aerospace giant is building a second facility in Oklahoma City and bringing 550 new jobs as it further expands operations in Oklahoma.

Fallin said she was“very pleased” at the company’s announcement, adding, “As governor, I will continue to pursue pro-growth policies that allow us to attract more jobs and opportunities for Oklahomans so that announcements like this will be more common across our state. This is great news for the aerospace industry, and to our new friends at Boeing, I say ‘welcome to Oklahoma!’”

According to a release from Boeing provided to CapitolBeatOK, the new six-story, 320,000-square-foot building will be designed and built by the Gardner Tanenbaum Group , a commercial real estate company headquartered in Oklahoma City. The building is expected to open in the second quarter of 2012.

In August 2010, Boeing announced plans to move the B-1 program and C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) to Oklahoma City fromLong Beach, Calif. Additionally, a $1.7 billion Federal Aviation AdministrationSE2020 Next Generation Air Transportation Research and Development contract that Boeing was awarded in May 2010 is being managed from Oklahoma City.

“By moving B-1 and C-130 AMP to Oklahoma City, we are able to lower our operating costs and extend an increased value to our customer,” said Mark Bass, Boeing vice president and general manager of Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades. “Boeing appreciates the positive business environment created by the state of Oklahoma and its county and city governments. This environment contributes to our affordability, and the well-trained aerospace work force already in place will be key to our success.”

Boeing Oklahoma City houses programs for two divisions under its Global Services & Support business: Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades and Defense & Government Services. The site focuses on engineering, contractor logistics services and field support.

“Core to our success in the competitive services marketis to be affordable for our customers,” said Mike Emmelhainz, Boeing Oklahoma City site leader. “We have worked in Oklahoma City to create a business environment that allows Boeing to be affordable and competitive. Our partnership with Oklahoma and the business climate here are helping us win new business, create quality jobs and sustain our current work across all of our businesses.”

Boeing currently employs 945 employees in Oklahoma, 745 of whom are located in Oklahoma City. Boeing will have nearly 1,500 employees in the state when the B-1 and C-130 transition is complete.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 66,000 employees worldwide.

 Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.