Monday, January 16, 2023

OCPA column: Stitt's inauguration sets tone

Inauguration sets tone
By Jonathan Small

Gov. Kevin Stitt set the right tone for his second term in his inauguration speech, signaling a focus on good policy. Stitt’s agenda gives Oklahomans reason for optimism.

“It’s time to keep moving forward with big ideas and to get them across the finish line for today’s children as well as the next generation,” Stitt said.

On education, Stitt called for major improvements that benefit all families, saying it is “time to re-think education in Oklahoma” by having the “the tough conversations to address what’s working and what is not.” He said that means giving students “more access to learning methods that fit their unique needs” and providing them “access to top ten education choices.”

There’s no single solution for solving Oklahoma’s education woes, but there’s no doubt universal school choice, which empowers parents to send a child to any school, will incentivize improvement across the state faster than any other option.

Stitt also stressed the need to make Oklahoma a more attractive place to invest and create jobs, saying he intends to “keep moving the needle on reducing taxes over the next four years and getting government out of the way.”

Oklahoma’s penalty on work and investment—the personal income tax—remains one of the state’s biggest barriers to stronger economic growth and leaves Oklahoma at a disadvantage with no-income-tax states across the nation. It’s time to eradicate the tax.

Stitt is not the only statewide officeholder beginning a new term. Several other statewide officeholders have begun new terms and their election provides opportunities to advance good policy.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters has been a strong voice for parental empowerment, school choice, and ensuring that public schools focus on academic basics first and foremost.

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell has done yeoman’s work to improve Oklahoma’s national brand and promote conservative policy.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond is determined to address the problem of international entities buying up Oklahoma land, a trend that is associated with criminal activity in some instances.

State Treasurer Todd Russ is a longtime fiscal conservative who will now provide a steady hand overseeing state pensions and investments.

Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready has helped Oklahomans and taxpayers cut healthcare and workers compensation risks and continues to push for these kinds of reforms.

Corporation Commissioner Kim David has a strong track record of promoting health care and other governmental reforms that empower individuals and is poised to be a voice for consumers and fiscal common sense in utility regulation.

New beginnings are typically associated with hope for a better future, although the reality of political back-and-forth can dash such dreams. But Oklahoma’s new leaders have voiced an agenda that citizens across the state have good cause to embrace. If our officeholders’ can achieve their stated goals, the next four years will put our state on a better path for all.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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