Friday, June 22, 2018

Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite responds to Supreme Court ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Today’s Supreme Court decision has provided a major setback in the effort to protect Oklahomans' tax dollars. For months, Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! has struggled with media and unions reporting lies about the petition by falsely stating it was a repeal on teacher pay raises. The effort to REPEAL HB1010XX is to relieve the people from unnecessary and burdensome taxes and had nothing to do with the teacher pay raise. The Supreme Court agreed with that sentiment in their ruling. If the taxes are repealed, the raises remain sacrosanct, as the supremes state on pages 4-5 in their decision.

Because of oversight in communications, scrivener errors and legislative gymnastics, the petition has been ruled invalid in the current form.

Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! believes in the protection of the taxpayer. At every turn we must ask: who is standing up for us? Our DNA is to fight for injustice perpetrated by all forms of government, after all a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.

We are, at our core, conservatives; and we want the conservation and protection of our money to be our civic leaders’ highest priority. It clearly is not. Governments and politicians have long ago decided that plunder of the taxpayer is acceptable, so they grow government at a rapid rate. As Jefferson states, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." We must fight against this natural progression.

We want to be remembered as men and women who cared too much rather than cared too little, even if that means our grassroots organization makes mistakes along the journey.

Given today’s decision of the OK Supreme Court, our fight is not over, our battle has just begun.

The people did not support this egregious and unnecessary, burdensome tax hike. The people will have their say.

Our mistakes will be corrected. Our motivation has been renewed. Our taxes are OUR money, they are not the governments’ money, and it’s time for all of us to declare that together from our rooftops.

Thank you to all Oklahomans who supported our initial effort. We appreciate all you've done to stand up for the Oklahoma taxpayer, the Forgotten Man.

Mick Cornett fails to answer MuskogeePolitico Survey

Mick "Cowardly Lion" Cornett
Many thanks to David Van Risseghem for photographing Cornett in the wild
Late last week, I sent out a survey to the top six Republican candidates for Governor. Each of them were asked ten questions, nine of which were identical and one which was uniquely tailored to each of them. I will be posting them in the order of the candidates' responses.

I tried to make the questionnaire interesting, wide-ranging, and tough for all, but I believe the questions are still fair to each. I am personally uncommitted still, and have attempted to use this survey for people like me who are still trying to decide how to vote on June 26th.

While five of the top six GOP candidates answered my survey, Mick Cornett decided to not do so.

2018 MuskogeePolitico.com GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire

Jamison Faught: How has your experience prepared you to serve as Governor?
Mick Cornett: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: What needs to be done to fix Oklahoma’s budget process?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: Tax revenue has increased dramatically over the past few months to nearly-record setting levels. There may be a surplus of over one billion dollars available for budgeting next year. What would you propose be done with any budget surplus during the next legislative session?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: Education has been a hot topic over the past few years. What is your plan to address the issues facing common and higher education in Oklahoma?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: Under Civil Asset Forfeiture, law enforcement can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity, even if the property owner is not found guilty of or even charged with a crime. This has resulted in high-profile cases of innocent citizens having property or funds essentially stolen from them with no justification. What is your position on Civil Asset Forfeiture?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: How do you plan to hold state government accountable for spending, in light of the scandals we’ve seen over the past year?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: The current Tribal-State Gaming Compact expires on January 1st, 2020. The next Governor will negotiate for the State of Oklahoma for the next 15-year tribal gaming agreement. What would you hope to achieve in your role?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: Republicans are often characterized as being for “big business”, “crony capitalism” or “corporate welfare”, sometimes deservedly and shamefully so. Oklahoma has a history of handing out sweetheart deals to large corporations in order to entice them to move to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, small businesses, the backbone of our economy who operate without high-paid lobbyists, often get overlooked. How do you intend to promote and incentivize entrepreneurship and small business growth in Oklahoma?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: You call yourself a conservative, yet as Mayor, you pushed for large tax increases and signed a letter to Congress that opposed repealing the Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare”). How are those positions conservative, and how do you defend them to conservatives, who view ObamaCare as the most damaging measure to come out of Washington in decades and who believe in lower taxes?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

JF: As the primary approaches, what one thing do you want voters to remember about you as they go into the voting booth?
MC: [Cornett apparently did not want to be put on record]

          *          *          *          *          *

I'd like to thank Mick for his time and for filling out this survey note my disappointment the fulfillment of my expectation regarding Cornett in not filling out this survey. Unlike most of the other candidates, Cornett has avoided as much as possible being nailed down into stating his positions on the issues facing Oklahoma, preferring to inflate his record as mayor and cover up his liberal tendencies.

I very strongly encourage voters to look elsewhere when deciding on who to vote for.


ADDITIONAL SURVEY POSTS:



  • Gary Jones 
  • Dan Fisher
  • Gary Richardson
  • Kevin Stitt
  • Todd Lamb
  • DA Prater refutes claims by Auditor candidate Charlie Prater

    Cindy Byrd, conservative candidate for State Auditor

    PRATER VS. PRATER:  DISTRICT ATTORNEY DAVID PRATER REFUTES FALSE CLAIMS FROM STATE AUDITOR CANDIDATE, CHARLIE PRATER 

        Oklahoma County District Attorney, David Prater, is publicly denying any relation or connection to State Auditor candidate, Charlie Prater.  David Prater set the record straight after Charlie Prater repeatedly claimed to voters that he and David Prater are cousins.

        “I’ve never met him. I don’t know him. As far as I know we are not related. I don’t know the man,” David Prater told KOKC Radio host, Tod Tucker, during a Tuesday morning broadcast.

        David Prater continued the conversation by praising the work of Deputy State Auditor Cindy Byrd, Charlie Prater‘s Republican opponent in the Auditor’s race.

        “I have worked with Cindy Byrd at the State Auditor’s office and I really had good experiences with her. She has done a really good job with the DA’s audits. But I don’t know Mr. Prater,” David Prater said.

        David Prater‘s comments showcase just one of several lies told by his non-cousin and total stranger, Charlie Prater.  During a debate between the Auditor candidates Wednesday evening, Charlie Prater repeatedly denied his guilt in a pending lawsuit in which 15 of his former business partners are suing him for breach of contract.

        “Charlie Prater is being sued because he failed to keep the contractual promises he made to his fellow investors,” Cindy Byrd says.  “His legal defense is that he was duped by his own accountants.  So he is either trying to weasel out of his financial responsibility or he is confessing that he was outwitted by shady bookkeepers.  Oklahoma’s State Auditor is the watchdog of our tax dollars so, whichever version is accurate, voters should consider either characteristic an immediate disqualifier.  Honesty and accuracy must be the hallmarks of our next State Auditor. Charlie Prater clearly lacks one or the other — or both.”

        Cindy Byrd is the current Oklahoma Deputy State Auditor for Local Government Services.  She is a CPA, member of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs, and of the American Board of Forensic Accountants.  In the last fiscal year, Cindy Byrd oversaw 304 of the 411 audit performed by the agency.

        The Republican primary election takes place on June 26, and the general election on November 6, 2018. For more information on Cindy Byrd, please visit www.CindyByrd.com or Facebook.com/ByrdforAuditor.

    Schulz and Hofmeister respond to veto referendum ruling

    Senate Pro Tem comments on court's ruling on SQ 799 referendum petition

    OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus, released the following comment regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court's ruling on State Question 799 and referendum petition:

    “I am pleased the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the effort to repeal HB 1010xx. The Legislature took extraordinary steps in passing HB 1010xx and it is absolutely necessary to fully fund the largest teacher pay raise in state history and the significant increase in education funding passed this session. We should all now turn our focus toward working for the resources and reforms necessary to support our teachers and ensure our children get the best education possible.”


    Hofmeister hails court decision clearing way for teacher pay raise

    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the following remarks after today’s decision on State Question 799 by the Oklahoma Supreme Court:

    ”The bipartisan passage of House Bill 1010xx was a significant step forward for all Oklahomans. I commend the Oklahoma Supreme Court for rejecting a repeal effort of this landmark legislation. At long last, we can reward our dedicated, hardworking public school teachers with the competitive pay they deserve. On the heels of a school year in which 1 in 7 students was taught by an untrained teacher, we can, and we must, now begin stemming the tide of Oklahoma’s crippling teacher shortage. Today’s decision clears the way for funding regionally competitive teacher pay, ushering in a new era of stability that is not only a win for public education, but for our kids and the future of our state.”

    Matt Pinnell for Lieutenant Governor



    I got to know Matt Pinnell when he was training conservative activists across the state, before he chaired the Oklahoma Republican Party or worked with the RNC to build up state parties and elect President Trump.

    Matt gets things done with excellence, energy, and full dedication to the conservative cause. I believe that Matt will make a great Lieutenant Governor, advocating for the conservative principles that Oklahomans hold dear, and fighting for policies that will advance and strengthen our state.

    Please join me in electing Matt Pinnell as our next Lieutenant Governor.

    Todd Lamb answers MuskogeePolitico Survey


    Late last week, I sent out a survey to the top six Republican candidates for Governor. Each of them were asked ten questions, nine of which were identical and one which was uniquely tailored to each of them. I will be posting them in the order of the candidates' responses.

    I tried to make the questionnaire interesting, wide-ranging, and tough for all, but I believe the questions are still fair to each. I am personally uncommitted still, and have attempted to use this survey for people like me who are still trying to decide how to vote on June 26th.

    Todd Lamb was the fifth candidate to send in his survey, so he gets this fifth post.

    2018 MuskogeePolitico.com GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire

    Jamison Faught: How has your experience prepared you to serve as Governor?
    Todd Lamb: My entire professional life has prepared me to serve as governor. From my tenure as a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent to my private sector experience as a petroleum landman and telecommunications’ industry professional to my public service as a state senator and Lt. Governor. I have an in-depth understanding of policy issues. I have real world experience in detailed planning and preparation. Oklahoma is in much of the mire we are because our state has no plan. My background as a proven conservative leader is documented and is not rhetoric. I am the only leading proven conservative candidate in the primary. See my RENEW Oklahoma plan at VoteToddLamb.com.

    JF: What needs to be done to fix Oklahoma’s budget process?
    TL: As governor, I have a detailed plan to restructure the antiquated legislative budget process. The four month legislative session should be divided into one month of policy and the last three months budget. This change will bring the budget process out in the open and hold unelected bureaucrats accountable for how they spend taxpayer money. This reform also includes zero-based budgeting. Zero-based budgeting is long overdue at the state Capitol. This is detailed reform that will save taxpayers millions, and ultimately, billions of dollars.

    JF: Tax revenue has increased dramatically over the past few months to nearly-record setting levels. There may be a surplus of over one billion dollars available for budgeting next year. What would you propose be done with any budget surplus during the next legislative session?
    TL: Oklahoma’s economy is showing signs of a healthy rebound across the private sector, yet the legislature still passed and the governor signed the largest tax increase (HB 1010XX) in the history of Oklahoma this spring. I would not have signed the bill if I was governor. I would have found the funds to provide a teacher pay raise and additional classroom funding by aggressively reducing the billions of dollars in tax credits, incentives and exemptions Oklahoma pushes out the door every year. As for surpluses they should first and foremost be deposited into the Rainy Day fund in order to replenish it for when true emergencies occur.

    JF: Education has been a hot topic over the past few years. What is your plan to address the issues facing common and higher education in Oklahoma?
    TL: The second component of my RENEW plan is education reform. As a husband of a public school teacher, no candidate is more supportive of common education than I am. I have advocated for a teacher pay raise and more classroom funding far more than any of my opponents. Oklahoma must provide more money into the classroom where the two most important people are; students and teachers. This past session, after a pay raise was passed and signed, I was interviewed on FOX News and stated the tax package gets an ‘F’ in reform, both academically and fiscally. Last year, 46% of high school graduates that went to college had to be remediated. We must increase academic rigor such as requiring third graders read, and do math, at grade level before advancing to fourth grade, and we must address administrative bloat statewide within common education. I support proper funding for higher education. For Oklahoma to advance economically, we must produce more college graduates, especially in STEM disciplines. It has been reported there are 9,000 STEM jobs currently vacant because the work force is not prepared. Increasing classroom funding and rigor will address this issue. Oklahoma must ensure a quality education is accessible to all Oklahoma students, including those interested in higher education, and like any large public entity, higher education must have accountability and continually look for savings so that our universities and colleges are always striving to advance the mission of advancing students toward graduation.

    JF: Under Civil Asset Forfeiture, law enforcement can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity, even if the property owner is not found guilty of or even charged with a crime. This has resulted in high-profile cases of innocent citizens having property or funds essentially stolen from them with no justification. What is your position on Civil Asset Forfeiture?
    TL: The 5th Amendment protects American citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. As governor, I will make certain our constitutional rights are protected.

    JF: How do you plan to hold state government accountable for spending, in light of the scandals we’ve seen over the past year?
    TL: More transparency must occur with regards to state spending. As I stated in my answer to question #2, I have a detailed plan to hold unelected bureaucrats accountable. If my legislative budget reform plan had been in place the State Department of Health scandal could have been prevented or at least discovered much earlier.

    JF: The current Tribal-State Gaming Compact expires on January 1st, 2020. The next Governor will negotiate for the State of Oklahoma for the next 15-year tribal gaming agreement. What would you hope to achieve in your role?
    TL: As governor I will have a fiduciary duty as I represent the state in compact negotiations, and I will take that duty seriously. The state of Oklahoma and our Native American tribal partners have worked together for many years for the betterment of Oklahoma. A component of our partnership returns a portion of Native American gaming revenues to the state which I support, and as governor I will work with tribal leaders to also ensure our citizens are protected from social ills that can stem from excessive gambling. I will work to keep our partnership strong in the many other areas the tribes and state work together such as health care, economic development, education, public safety and transportation to name a few.

    JF: Republicans are often characterized as being for “big business”, “crony capitalism” or “corporate welfare”, sometimes deservedly and shamefully so. Oklahoma has a history of handing out sweetheart deals to large corporations in order to entice them to move to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, small businesses, the backbone of our economy who operate without high-paid lobbyists, often get overlooked. How do you intend to promote and incentivize entrepreneurship and small business growth in Oklahoma?
    TL: For seven years I served as Oklahoma’s Small Business Advocate. No candidate comes close to my record in recruiting, cultivating and supporting small businesses across Oklahoma. One opportunity Oklahoma must take advantage of is increasing exports of goods manufactured here to global markets. When elected governor, I will appoint the state’s first Secretary of International Trade whose sole responsibility will be to advance and advocate for the exportation of Oklahoma made products overseas. I am a proven leader on small business issues, and will continue to be as governor.

    JF: One common concern I hear from people is a perception that you are timid and unwilling to take difficult stances on issues, or that you wait until it is “safe” before voicing your opinions on controversial measures. Specific examples are the pro-life and open-carry bills that Gov. Fallin vetoed, and the tax-hike fight of 2018 where legislative conservatives were virtually unassisted in their efforts to stand up for taxpayers. What do you say to those who have doubts about your political courage?
    TL: I could not disagree more. Nobody in this race is as proven as I am, and nobody is as willing to take tough stances as I am. It is not rhetoric. It is fact. In 2017, I led the charge against Governor Fallin’s call for millions of dollars annually in new service taxes, and I publicly resigned from her cabinet due to my opposition. Secondly, I oppose all tax increases, and I adamantly and publicly opposed tax increases that were passed this past session. When constitutional carry legislation, SB 1212, was being debated, I publicly urged Oklahomans to contact the governor and request that she sign the bill. As Lt. Governor, I cast the tie-breaking vote to prevent the gross production tax from increasing from 1% to 7%. This is a fact. As a state senator, I led the override of former Governor Henry’s veto of pro-life legislation. This is a fact. I am a proven conservative with a record to back it up, and I will lead Oklahoma from day one as governor.

    JF: As the primary approaches, what one thing do you want voters to remember about you as they go into the voting booth?
    TL: I am a man of integrity with a deep faith who has a plan and is prepared to lead Oklahoma. I was born and raised in Enid. My wife, Monica, a public school teacher, and I have been married nearly 23 years and we have two wonderful children. I am a proven conservative who is ready to advance Oklahoma across many vital issues from my first day in office. I will not require on-the-job-training and I have the vital experience to lead Oklahoma as its next chief executive officer. Oklahoma must not gamble on hiring a CEO with no experience. A vote for Todd Lamb is a vote for true conservative leadership.

              *          *          *          *          *

    I'd like to thank Todd for his time and for filling out this survey. I hope you find the questions and answers informative and helpful as you make your decision for the upcoming primary election. Stay tuned for further posts with responses from the rest of the candidates.

    You can learn more about Todd Lamb and his campaign for Governor by visiting VoteToddLamb.com.

    ADDITIONAL SURVEY POSTS:



  • Gary Jones 
  • Dan Fisher
  • Gary Richardson
  • Kevin Stitt
  • Todd Lamb 
  • Mick Cornett (coming at 4pm Friday)
  • Disgraced OK County Sheriff trying to reinsert into county politics?


    It looks like disgraced former Democratic Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel is trying to get back into a position of influence in Oklahoma County politics, as he's publicly declaring his support for candidates in several key races for county offices.

    Whetsel resigned from office under a cloud of scandal and the threat of indictment over mismanagement and departmental blunders during his tenure. His misdoings ended up costing Oklahoma County taxpayers over $3,300,000 in higher property taxes to pay for medical bills that Whetsel simply ignored rather than deal with. A scathing audit by State Auditor Gary Jones found repeated examples of financial wrongdoing and actions taken without approval of county commissioners.

    Oklahoma County is on the verge of electing a conservative reformist majority to county offices, tilting the County Budget Board in a new direction.

    The budget board is comprised of the county elected officials. From conversations I've had with individuals with closer knowledge of the situation, the conservative/reform side includes County Commissioner Brian Maughan (R), County Clerk David Hooten (R), Court Clerk Rick Warren (R), and Assessor Leonard Sullivan (R).  The status-quo group is made up of  Sheriff PD Taylor (R; Whetsel's former chief deputy and successor), County Treasurer Butch Freeman (R), County Commissioner Ray Vaughan (R), and Democrat Commissioner Willa Johnson (D).

    Of those officials, several are either retiring or facing contested races this year. Commissioner Johnson (D) is retiring, and will most likely be replaced by former State Senator Al McAffrey (D). Commissioner Vaughan (R) is also retiring, and term-limited State Rep. Kevin Calvey (R) is favored to defeat Vaughan's chief deputy, Rick Buchanan, in the primary and defeat the Democrat candidate in the general election. Treasurer Butch Freeman is being challenged by Oklahoma County GOP Chairman Daren Ward, with Freeman -- Freeman has held the office since 1993 and is likely to hold on.

    With Calvey favored to win his race and pick that seat up for the conservatives/reformists, that makes the primary for County Assessor the swing seat. Incumbent Republican Leonard Sullivan is retiring, and there is a contested GOP primary race between his conservative chief deputy, Larry Stein, and former State Rep. Gary Banz.

    Stein is endorsed by outgoing Assessor Sullivan, as well as the rest of the conservative/reform gang on the County Budget Board. Under Sullivan and Stein, the Oklahoma County Assessor's office has hit a record-low number of property value appeals (0.0007% as opposed to the typical county average of 6%-12%), among other accomplishments.

    Whetsel, a Democrat, has endorsed Banz for County Assessor, Buchanan for County Commissioner, and Freeman for Treasurer, all of whom are Republicans, in addition to Democrat McAffrey for Commissioner.

    Now, why is a disgraced longtime Democrat elected official weighing in on Republican primaries? Could it be that he would prefer to keep the status quo than to see conservative reforms sweep through Oklahoma County?

    Oklahoma County voters have an opportunity to bring serious change to county government. It's important that they choose wisely, especially given that voting trends in Oklahoma County may be beginning to swing back in the Democrats' direction.

    Coburn endorses Colton Buckley in HD61 race


    TOM COBURN ENDORSES COLTON BUCKLEY IN HD-61 RACE

        Former US Senator and conservative stalwart, Dr. Tom Coburn, is endorsing Republican Colton Buckley in his campaign for House District 61 .

        “Colton Buckley is the only true conservative in this race,” Dr. Tom Coburn says.  “He has repeatedly proven himself as a national leader who promotes the values of Northwest Oklahoma, a job creator in his community, and a man with the vision to bring new business and industry to House District 61.  I’m encouraging all Republicans who cherish hard work and small government to vote for Colton Buckley on June 26th.”

       Dr. Coburn served in both the US House and Senate before retiring in 2015.  He gained a national reputation as a principled conservative who worked across party lines.

        “Dr. Coburn is a role model for every conservative in Oklahoma and I’m honored to have his endorsement,” Colton Buckley says.  “Voters who appreciate and value Dr. Coburn’s leadership style will see the same from me. I will always work with others on the principle of compromise without compromising my principles.”

       Colton Buckley is president of Great Plains Media Group Inc, a local marketing firm for small businesses, rural media outlets, and non-profit organizations.  He is also a founding director of Rural American Alliance, a non-profit promoting the rural American way of life, in addition to serving as a leadership director for Turning Point USA.       

        The Republican primary election takes place on June 26, and the general election on November 6, 2018. For more information on Colton Buckley, please visit his website at www.buckleyforoklahoma.com or at Facebook.com/ColtonBuckley.

    Kevin Stitt answers MuskogeePolitico Survey


    Late last week, I sent out a survey to the top six Republican candidates for Governor. Each of them were asked ten questions, nine of which were identical and one which was uniquely tailored to each of them. I will be posting them in the order of the candidates' responses.

    I tried to make the questionnaire interesting, wide-ranging, and tough for all, but I believe the questions are still fair to each. I am personally uncommitted still, and have attempted to use this survey for people like me who are still trying to decide how to vote on June 26th.

    Kevin Stitt was the fourth candidate to send in his survey, so he gets this fourth post.

    2018 MuskogeePolitico.com GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire

    Jamison Faught: How has your experience prepared you to serve as Governor?
    Kevin Stitt: In July, Oklahoma will be turning over the largest budget in state history that will be spent by 120 various state agencies. We can either hire a career politician who has never set strategy, built and managed a sustainable budget or hired people. Or, the state can elect someone from the outside with proven leadership experience. Nearly twenty years ago, I founded my mortgage company, Gateway, with a $1,000 and a computer, and we have grown into 41 states with 165 offices, servicing $17 billion in loans. I am proud that in Oklahoma we employ hundreds of people across nine cities. Despite the ups and downs in the economy over the years, my company has experienced tremendous success. Last year, when my industry was down 15 percent, Gateway grew 20 percent. Why? Because of vision. My time in business has been centered around casting vision, problem solving and creating sustainable budgets. Day one, I will be ready to do this as governor of Oklahoma to fix the mess we are in and put Oklahoma on the path to being a Top Ten state.

    JF: What needs to be done to fix Oklahoma’s budget process?
    KS: There are commonsense solutions that the Legislature can implement like line item budgeting and zero-based budgeting – every candidate is endorsing that Oklahoma gets back to this practice. But there is even more the governor can do to lead our state in delivering transparency and accountability for the full $22 billion. Right now, the Legislature only appropriates roughly 1/3rd of the budget. That is like having 2/3rd of your checkbook on auto-draft. Anything on auto-draft is easy to lose sight of over time, such as the cost to run government and need for efficiency. To regain control of the total $22 billion budget we will start with the following steps in a Stitt administration: First, we will reverse our state’s current D+ rating for online budget transparency. It’s time Oklahomans see, in near real time, the state’s checkbook and how agencies are spending our hard-earned tax dollars so that agencies like the Health Department can’t tuck away a $30 million slush fund. Second, we will conduct regular audits of agencies and apply performance metrics so that you can see real outcomes. Finally, I will ask the Legislature to make the governor more accountable for state government by allowing the governor to fire poor performing agency heads. After the Health Department crisis, the Legislature changed the structure to give the governor more accountability to take swift action with the leadership of this agency. We shouldn’t wait for the next crisis to change this structure in other major state agencies.

    JF: Tax revenue has increased dramatically over the past few months to nearly-record setting levels. There may be a surplus of over one billion dollars available for budgeting next year. What would you propose be done with any budget surplus during the next legislative session?
    KS: Every business person knows you need to have an adequate emergency fund in order to avoid disaster when the economy takes a sudden downturn.  I believe the only way to stabilize the budget in a volatile economy is to reform the budget process and increase our state’s savings account.  We should either revisit the Vision Fund that Governor Fallin vetoed, despite wide support in the House and Senate, or we should create what other states’ call a “stabilization fund”. As I have dug into what other states are doing and assessed the volatility of our state’s revenue sources, I believe we need to have $2 billion in savings to protect against draconian cuts to core services next time Oklahoma’s economy faces a recession, whether that is triggered by a $30 barrel of oil or a drop in agriculture commodity prices. A strong savings account is foundational to protecting the advancements a Stitt administration will make in education and infrastructure.  It will give job creators more certainty that they will not face knee-jerk tax hikes at the very time they are struggling to keep their doors open. In a Stitt administration, we are going to deliver Top Ten outcomes in growth, education, and infrastructure, and it is critical we protect these advances with proper budget planning. This is also a good opportunity to implement tax reform and reorient our outdated tax structure toward spurring economic growth.

    JF: Education has been a hot topic over the past few years. What is your plan to address the issues facing common and higher education in Oklahoma?
    KSSince day one, I have said that I am committed to delivering Top Ten education outcomes in Oklahoma. As a job creator, with hundreds of employees in Oklahoma, I know how critical it is for us to get this right. Our education system has failed because of political decisions made for more than two decades. Oklahoma needs to pay our teachers competitive wages. We need to ensure our classrooms are properly resourced and that we are reducing classroom size. I believe this is going to require us to reform the funding formula. Currently, if a local community were to increase investment in education, they will lose dollar-for-dollar from the state funding formula. We should be encouraging local investment, not punishing it, while also making sure our poorest communities are receiving the support they need. How we are funding common education today is not working. I am ready to be a problem-solver to lead us through hard decisions to ensure stability and certainty in education funding for the next generation.

    We also need to better align common education with both career techs and higher education. We need to help our children be college ready by leveraging modern technology to expand opportunities for AP-credit courses while in high school. We also need to better integrate our career techs into our common education curriculum so that students have the choice and opportunity to graduate career ready as well.


    JF: Under Civil Asset Forfeiture, law enforcement can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity, even if the property owner is not found guilty of or even charged with a crime. This has resulted in high-profile cases of innocent citizens having property or funds essentially stolen from them with no justification. What is your position on Civil Asset Forfeiture?
    KS: We need to review how civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma is being employed. I support the use of it when targeting clearly illicit proceeds tied to an actual crime. However, I have met Oklahomans across the state who have had family members or colleagues unnecessarily set up for failure by the state due, in part, to excessive use of civil asset forfeiture. We need to create better outcomes for those with minor offenses while giving District Attorneys the tools necessary to get the most egregious drug offenders off the streets and to combat drug trafficking. We must never lose sight of the simple fact that we are a government 'for the people, by the people' and the interests of government should never outweigh the interests of Oklahoma citizens.

    JF: How do you plan to hold state government accountable for spending, in light of the scandals we’ve seen over the past year?
    KS: This goes back to my plan I offered in question 1 and you can read more about it at www.OKturnaround.com.

    In the private sector, my 165 field offices undergo routine audits, and we apply performance metrics to deliver accountability for every dime and to rid the system of bloat and waste. As governor, I will reach out and meet regularly with agency leaders to set performance metrics and post these metrics online so that Oklahoma taxpayers can judge how efficiently the state is delivering results.

    I will also post taxpayer dollars online. Right now, Oklahoma has a couple of websites claiming to do this, but one site says the state spent $35 billion in FY’17 and the other says it spent $17 billion annual. What are Oklahomans to believe? Furthermore, when I first made public in May that Oklahoma’s “Open Books” website was out of date, I clicked the link “Where does the state spend money” and would get a screen with incomplete information from FY’10.

    Furthermore, U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a national report in April that gave Oklahoma’s “Open Books” site a D+ because the search function didn’t work and they listed Oklahoma in the Bottom Ten of online budget transparency.  The report also highlighted states like Ohio and West Virginia who have clear, easy to use online checkbooks that monitor the state’s spending with very little lag time. These are simple, but important steps to start delivering accountability and transparency to state government.

    JF: The current Tribal-State Gaming Compact expires on January 1st, 2020. The next Governor will negotiate for the State of Oklahoma for the next 15-year tribal gaming agreement. What would you hope to achieve in your role?
    KS: As a CEO operating in 41 states, one of my primary rolls is ensuring my company is negotiating and signing fair contracts that spur success and growth for our operations. As governor of Oklahoma, I am ready to be a chief negotiator that signs a sound and equitable compact that advances the future of Oklahoma for all 4 million of our citizens and future generations. As a registered Cherokee, I know first-hand what a tremendous benefit the tribes have been to our state, creating tens of thousands of jobs, expanding health care options in rural Oklahoma, and more. When we enter negotiations, I will be looking at what is market (comparable with states around us) with tribal contracts and at what is in the best interest of the entire state of Oklahoma.

    JF: Republicans are often characterized as being for “big business”, “crony capitalism” or “corporate welfare”, sometimes deservedly and shamefully so. Oklahoma has a history of handing out sweetheart deals to large corporations in order to entice them to move to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, small businesses, the backbone of our economy who operate without high-paid lobbyists, often get overlooked. How do you intend to promote and incentivize entrepreneurship and small business growth in Oklahoma?
    KS: An eye-opening experience for me on the campaign trail has been meeting the many individuals hired by corporations to write legislation benefiting the company and using their relationships with elected officials to get it passed into law. Jamison poses an interesting question that I can relate to first hand. In my 20s, I took a risk and left a stable job, while my wife was pregnant with our first child, to start our company with just $1,000 and a computer. My company’s growth and success has really taken off in the past 10 years, and I never once called on a lobbyist to help make this growth happen. We have to promote our entrepreneurs and small businesses in Oklahoma, and we will do this in a Stitt administration by promoting a free market, cutting unnecessary and outdated red tape, building Top Ten infrastructure across the state, and maintaining our low cost of living. I am also committed to being Oklahoma’s #1 recruiter of job creators of all sizes. You never know when one small business and one idea can turn into the next Amazon or major cyber security firm employing thousands of Oklahomans.

    Regarding incentives, I don’t believe in sweetheart deals. I do believe Oklahoma must be competitive with other states.  I do not want to put our companies or our state at a disadvantage.  I’ll look at the market.  What are the states around us doing?  Our incentives will match the competition, but we won’t go beyond that.

    JF: In your position as a corporate CEO you made decisions and policy that affected your entire company, however, the governor does not have that same unilateral power. As an outsider, how will you be effective as governor not having navigated those waters previously, and given your previous lack of involvement in even voting regularly as a private citizen?
    KS: I’m a life-long Republican and voted for President Trump. For the past 20 years, I have had my head down, raising my six kids and building Gateway from scratch and into a company that employs hundreds of Oklahomans across 9 cities. I am new to politics, and I am running for Governor because our state is in crisis and I don’t believe the career politicians who got us into this mess can get us out. Oklahomans are ready for change, and our campaign is seeing a surge in support because they know we need a conservative outsider to clean up the mess.

    JF: As the primary approaches, what one thing do you want voters to remember about you as they go into the voting booth?
    KS: I am not a politician, and I’ve never run for public office. Some of my opponents are using this fact to scare people, as if a plane is crashing and a ticketed passenger, who happens to be a licensed pilot not on duty, can’t take over. But anyone using the analogy lends me to question their support for President Trump and what he has done to reinvigorate our nation’s economy and advance the pro-life cause, all of which has been possible because he came from outside the political spectrum.

    I am running for governor because the state that I love continues to face the same problems over and over in Oklahoma City, and it is time we end the cycle that has left our state in last place in all the vital categories like education and government transparency and first place in incarceration rates. If you want conservative change, if you are ready for Oklahoma to be a Top Ten state, if you want a leader that is a proven problem-solver who will root out waste in state government and deliver results with your hard-earned tax dollars, then vote for me, Kevin Stitt.

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    I'd like to thank Kevin for his time and for filling out this survey. I hope you find the questions and answers informative and helpful as you make your decision for the upcoming primary election. Stay tuned for further posts with responses from the rest of the candidates.

    You can learn more about Kevin Stitt and his campaign for Governor by visiting StittForGovernor.com.

    ADDITIONAL SURVEY POSTS:

  • Gary Jones 
  • Dan Fisher
  • Gary Richardson
  • Kevin Stitt
  • Todd Lamb (coming at 11am Friday) 
  • Mick Cornett (coming at 4pm Friday)
  • Thursday, June 21, 2018

    Gary Richardson answers MuskogeePolitico Survey


    Late last week, I sent out a survey to the top six Republican candidates for Governor. Each of them were asked ten questions, nine of which were identical and one which was uniquely tailored to each of them. I will be posting them in the order of the candidates' responses.

    I tried to make the questionnaire interesting, wide-ranging, and tough for all, but I believe the questions are still fair to each. I am personally uncommitted still, and have attempted to use this survey for people like me who are still trying to decide how to vote on June 26th.

    Gary Richardson was the third to send in his survey, so he gets the third post. Previous posts show responses from Gary Jones and Dan Fisher.

    2018 MuskogeePolitico.com GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire

    Jamison Faught: How has your experience prepared you to serve as Governor?
    Gary Richardson: My experience, both as a United States Attorney and successful business owner, makes me uniquely qualified to be the next Governor of Oklahoma. I have a proven track record of integrity, leadership and success — the exact traits voters want in their next Governor.

    JF: What needs to be done to fix Oklahoma’s budget process?
    GR: It is impossible to prescribe a cure when we don’t have a diagnosis. That mentality is what has plunged Oklahoma into its current crisis. We need hard data on the problem before we can come up with a solution and that begins with audits.

    I launched my campaign by calling for performance and forensic audit of every state agency, board and commission. And I would require those audits to be performed, at a minimum, every four years. Only after we have that information can we accurately determine which steps to take.

    JF: Tax revenue has increased dramatically over the past few months to nearly-record setting levels. There may be a surplus of over one billion dollars available for budgeting next year. What would you propose be done with any budget surplus during the next legislative session?
    GR: I would use that money to fund teacher pay raises before we implement the burdensome tax increases passed by the legislature last session.

    JF: Education has been a hot topic over the past few years. What is your plan to address the issues facing common and higher education in Oklahoma?
    GR: I would begin with an audit to determine where the waste and mismanagement is. We have a constitutional obligation to educate our children but we also have a moral obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer money.

    Oklahoma’s classroom teachers deserve a raise, and they are frustration is justified, but a knee-jerk reaction of raising taxes is not the answer. And it should be made clear that the teacher raise goes to effect whether or not the veto referendum succeeds.  But if the veto is passed, I have a very specific plan to give every teacher a pay raise without placing a higher burden on hard-working Oklahomans.

    Education is a government program that should be scrutinized like any other agency to maximize return.

    JF: Under Civil Asset Forfeiture, law enforcement can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity, even if the property owner is not found guilty of or even charged with a crime. This has resulted in high-profile cases of innocent citizens having property or funds essentially stolen from them with no justification. What is your position on Civil Asset Forfeiture?
    GR: Civil asset forfeiture should only be allowed when accompanied by probable cause. Permanently seizing someone’s personal assets should only be allowed if that person is convicted of a crime related to the seized assets. Under the current system, law-enforcement has the ability to take people’s property, one of our fundamental God-given rights, based on suspicion alone. There does not have to be an arrest, and indictment, a trial or a conviction. The very idea of due process is not just circumvented — it is aborted.

    JF: How do you plan to hold state government accountable for spending, in light of the scandals we’ve seen over the past year?
    GR: Audit, audits, audit. We have a complete lack of oversight and accountability when it comes to agency spending in Oklahoma. I will seek out the fraud, waste and corruption and then prosecute anyone found stealing from the taxpayers of Oklahoma. It is precisely what I did as a US Attorney when I prosecuted people during the county commissioner scandal and it is precisely what I will do on the state level.

    JF: The current Tribal-State Gaming Compact expires on January 1st, 2020. The next Governor will negotiate for the State of Oklahoma for the next 15-year tribal gaming agreement. What would you hope to achieve in your role?
    GR: The state of Oklahoma depends on the Governor to negotiate a fair deal for the people of Oklahoma. Thus far, the people of Oklahoma have been short changed. Every industry that benefits from setting up shop in Oklahoma must be treated fairly and equally. The Indian tribes, which I am happy to see flourish in the era of legalized gambling, must contribute its fair share to maintain Oklahoma’s Government infrastructure.

    JF: Republicans are often characterized as being for “big business”, “crony capitalism” or “corporate welfare”, sometimes deservedly and shamefully so. Oklahoma has a history of handing out sweetheart deals to large corporations in order to entice them to move to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, small businesses, the backbone of our economy who operate without high-paid lobbyists, often get overlooked. How do you intend to promote and incentivize entrepreneurship and small business growth in Oklahoma?
    GR: We must remember our largest corporations started out as small businesses. Encouraging the development of small business start-ups is critical to the future of Oklahoma’s economy.

    The government should never set out to level the playing field but the government should do its best to clear the playing field. That means corporate welfare and kickbacks must come to an end. The free market works at its best when government interference is kept at a minimum.

    JF: One of your main campaign platforms both now and during your Independent gubernatorial campaign of 2002 is to audit and dismantle the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. If you are successful in accomplishing that, how do you plan to pay for the dismantling and the additional maintenance ODOT will incur by absorbing the current turnpike system without negatively impacting ODOT’s other obligations?
    GR: The turnpike system is perhaps the greatest scam ever pulled on the people of Oklahoma. The turnpike authority operates with zero oversight and accountability despite being a tremendous drain on the taxpayers.

    I have a five-year plan to phase out the turnpikes by paying off existing bonds, transferring construction and maintenance to ODOT, and it will ultimately save the state billions of dollars.

    Oklahoma’s infrastructure is in a state of decay because we do not allocate resources responsibly. My plan to dismantle the turnpike system will not cost taxpayers money — save taxpayers money.

    JF: As the primary approaches, what one thing do you want voters to remember about you as they go into the voting booth?
    GR: I am a proven leader with a remarkable track record of success Who can make the changes Oklahoma desperately needs.

    We cannot continue to elect the same leaders and expect different results. Oklahoma state government needs a fundamental overhaul that implements a reliable system of transparency, oversight and accountability of how our money is spent.

    Gary Richardson is the only candidate who can make that happen.

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    I'd like to thank Gary for his time and for filling out this survey. I hope you find the questions and answers informative and helpful as you make your decision for the upcoming primary election. Stay tuned for further posts with responses from the rest of the candidates.

    You can learn more about Gary Richardson and his campaign for Governor by visiting GaryRichardson.org.


    ADDITIONAL SURVEY POSTS:

  • Gary Jones 
  • Dan Fisher
  • Gary Richardson
  • Kevin Stitt (coming at 7am Friday)
  • Todd Lamb (coming at 11am Friday) 
  • Mick Cornett (coming at 4pm Friday)