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)
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