President Pro Tempore
Senator Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa
State Capitol Room 422
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: February 18, 2014
Sen. Brian Bingman
Senate Committee Passes Quality Workforce
The Senate Finance Committee has passed legislation
that will help match Oklahomans with jobs identified by the state
Department of Commerce as critical occupations.
Senate Bill 1639 would create the Quality Workforce Act, which
would incentivize Oklahoma companies to pay for employees to gain
a degree or industry certificate in high-need job areas.
While Oklahoma’s unemployment rate of skilled labor continues
to stay far below the national average, businesses struggle to find
and employ qualified workers, limiting business production, economic
expansion and state revenue growth. According to the Department
of Commerce, nearly 48 percent of Oklahomans above the age of 25
have no post-secondary training.
“We have to make sure all Oklahomans have the skills needed
to compete in a 21st Century global economy. This legislation will
help improve the educational attainment of our citizens while matching
them with jobs in areas where there are high-paying jobs available
right now. It is a true win-win for the state,” said Senate
President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, author of the bill.
Details of Senate Bill 1639:
• Companies would pay the cost of tuition and materials for
a current or potential employee to gain a certificate or degree.
After completion, and with documentation from an accredited organization
of both the certificate/degree and proof of payment, the business
would be eligible for a rebate that refunded the cost.
• Only firms that met the stringent thresholds to qualify
for Quality Jobs would be eligible. This would include factors such
as industry classification, average wage and insurance.
• Qualifying companies would be eligible for a rebate not
to exceed 5 percent of the average wage of their employees on an
annual basis. For example, if the average wage is $50k, then the
company could receive a rebate of $2,500 per certificate/degree
completed. The amount would be fiscally neutral as the newly certified
employee will have increased production capacity, earn a higher
wage and contribute to a positive state return.
• To incentivize companies to actively recruit and invest
in specific cohorts, a premium could be applied to the rebate amount.
For instance, a 10 percent premium could be added if the certificate/degree
is earned by someone previously on Soonercare. An additional 5 percent
could be added if the person is a veteran. These costs would be
offset by the reduction of public assistance that may have previously
• To assist companies in identifying and recruiting potential
candidates, www.okjobmatch.com could be expanded to provide a jobseeker
database of the specific industry jobs.
Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs is considered the premier incentive
for business growth as it is performance based, limited to wealth
generating industries, and fiscally accountable. Using the principles
of Quality Jobs, a rebate could be created to incentivize companies
to invest in their own workforce, thereby supporting Oklahoma business
retention and expansion.
“This legislation will help encourage Oklahomans to seek
an industry certification or associate’s degree to make them
more marketable and raise their lifetime earning potential significantly,
all while filling needed jobs in Oklahoma now,” said Sen.
John Ford, who carried the bill in committee today.
The legislation passed the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday with
a vote of 9-1 and will now move to the full Senate for further consideration.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Bingman: (405) 521-5605