(Editor’s note: Now that April 1, 2018, is behind us, it should be noted that this “editorial” was published as an April Fools Day ruse.)
As the state of Oklahoma slogs its way through the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers and state business leaders should consider an important proposal to boost the economy. Media companies must be added as qualifying entities for the state’s Quality Jobs Program.
Oklahoma has two versions of the Quality Jobs Program — one for large employers and one for small employers. Frankly, adjusting the rules for either of them to include media companies would be just fine.
Here at NonDoc, we employ fewer than 90 people, so we could benefit from expanding the Small Employer Quality Jobs Program. But this is not about us. This is about what the people of Oklahoma need — incentives for privately owned newspapers and websites, whether they publish poetry or fart jokes.
Current eligibility rules for the Small Employer Quality Jobs Program are described thusly on the Oklahoma Department of Commerce website:
The Small Employer Quality Jobs Program provides quarterly incentive payments to a qualifying small employer (90 employees or less). Quarterly payments may be as much as 5% of new taxable payroll for up to 7 years. Qualifying payroll must be attributable to annual salaries that are at least 110% of the average wage of the county in which the jobs are located. Qualifying companies must also attain 75% out of state sales.
Simple modifications to this eligibility would greatly improve the viability of independent journalism. Instead of “qualifying payroll” defined as salaries that are “at least 110 percent of the average wage of the county in which the jobs are located,” lawmakers could amend statute to include jobs that are, say, 25 percent of the average wage for a grown-ass adult with bills to pay (i.e. journalists).
Similarly, expansion of the larger-employer Quality Jobs Program could also help Oklahoma’s newspapers, which could certainly benefit from the sort of payments afforded to companies that advertise with them. Currently, many newspapers are reducing circulation rates or even shifting from seven printed papers per week to five or three.
If the Quality Jobs Program included media companies, perhaps newspapers could go back to printing twice per day. Maybe three times per day, if we are lucky.
Quality Jobs Program expansion could boost liquor sales
If there’s one thing this state needs — especially on a day like today — it’s a commitment to paying more tax dollars out to journalism organizations. The benefits would have trickle-down effects on the economy:
- Increased sales of coffee and alcohol
- A boost to the notepad industry
- More people — and hashtags — on Twitter
- A hike in fees collected from organizations that respond to records requests
- More weekly papers able to return to broadsheet layouts that allow for proper folding of a pressman’s hat
- Skyrocketing shares of Bic and Pilot pen companies
If there’s one thing journalists are good at doing, it’s writing about the success of trickle-down economics.
An expansion of Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs Program for media companies would be in society’s best interest. Failing to consider such a proposal would be the height of foolishness for the Legislature this April.