I was in a private meeting this week where some of Oklahoma's top CEOs told us about their problems. They whined mostly about the high expense of workers' comp insurance, medical insurance for their employees and the poor state of Oklahoma's highways and bridges. One CEO pointed out that he operates factories in several states and the workers comp costs him more in Oklahoma than in any other state except California. "You can't fight it", said another guy in a Brooks Brothers suit, an owner of a beverage factory. "The deck is stacked against you by the state and there's no way to fight back."
"I tell you what the real problem is," said a graying agricbusiness exec, "it's the tax-free competition from the Indian tribes. They have gone way beyond the smoke shops and the gas stations and are setting up hotels, golf courses, and buying up the best urban restaurants and operating tax free! You should take a look at their financial statements - they're getting fat by taking business away from those who have to pay taxes." There was general consensus around the table. A lady executive in the oil business pointed out that the Indian tribes were big contributors to Brad Henry's campaign and he is now wanting to renegotiate the compacts that former Governor Keating had done. "Henry's going to make this a lot worse. He owes the trial lawyers and the Indians."