Thursday, June 21, 2018

Gary Jones 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 Jones was the first to fill out the survey and return it to me, so he gets the first post.

2018 MuskogeePolitico.com GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire

Jamison Faught: How has your experience prepared you to serve as Governor?
Gary Jones: Being the state auditor and auditing virtually every aspect of state government gives me a unique perspective and prepares me better than any other candidate to fix our state’s budget problems.

JF: What needs to be done to fix Oklahoma’s budget process?
GJ: We need a single budget office staffed with professionals instead of three offices, the House, the Senate and the Governor, to create the state’s budget. That would save the state a million-and-a-half dollars and give them accurate information in order to craft one budget.

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?
GJ: Approximately $500 million of those surplus funds will be used to fill the whole in last year’s budget and that is not reflected here. The increase is largely due to removing the 6% rebate on oil and gas. By the time you take into account the teacher pay raises, there will be little to any surplus left. However, any dollars that are left, should go into our rainy day fund, which is virtually depleted.

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?
GJ: My plan is that the governor’s office has a partnership with the education community and we work together to create a responsible education budget and standards. And then hold the education community accountable.

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?
GJ: I don’t believe assets should be confiscated until they have had their day in court.

JF: How do you plan to hold state government accountable for spending, in light of the scandals we’ve seen over the past year?
GJ: We need to continue to do what we’ve done. 1. Increase funding to the State Auditor’s office so they can properly do their job. The State Auditor’s office is actually a combination of two constitutional offices, the State Auditor’s Office and the Inspector General. If we fund each of these offices appropriately, the departments would be able uncover more fraud and waste within our state.

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?
GJ: To obtain a compact that is fair to both parties, with the understanding that I represent the citizens of Oklahoma to ensure that we get the best deal possible for the state.

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?
GJ: I believe we ought to take care of our in-state businesses first. We need to support our Oklahoma businesses and offer programs to encourage them to grow, as opposed to offering money to other companies to come to this state. Any programs that are offered to out-of-state companies, we need to ensure that the state gets a fair return on that investment. If not, we will end the program.

JF: During the last session and special sessions, you were perhaps the only gubernatorial candidate to openly suggest and advocate for raising taxes. You even spoke at a press conference with the House Democratic caucus to push for a budget plan that raised nearly $500M in taxes. This is despite being a former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, whose platform generally opposes tax increases. What do you say to those who may be concerned that you will abandon the GOP platform once in office, like Mary Fallin has?
GJ: First, resetting the GPT from 2% to 5% is a reset to a reasonable rate. Finding solutions to problems during a crisis, isn’t violating the GOP platform, it’s responsible government. All three elements of my plan have been endorsed by OCPA and Dr. Tom Coburn at one time or another.

JF: As the primary approaches, what one thing do you want voters to remember about you as they go into the voting booth?
GJ: That no one worked any harder to build the Republican party in Oklahoma than I have over the last 20 years. I have a history of identifying problems and solving them like no other candidate, and I always step up to the challenge. I’ve contributed more to Republican causes than any other candidate.

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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 Jones and his campaign for Governor by visiting JonesOK2018.com.


ADDITIONAL SURVEY POSTS:

  • Gary Jones 
  • Dan Fisher (coming at 4pm Thursday)
  • Gary Richardson (coming at 8pm Thursday)
  • Kevin Stitt (coming at 7am Friday)
  • Todd Lamb (coming at 11am Friday) 
  • Mick Cornett (coming at 4pm Friday)
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