How would you work to improve the state's economy?
Oklahoma's economy is in better shape than most due to our energy-based economy. We need to expand demand for Oklahoma's domestic fuels such as natural gas, wind and biofuels. Building a work force that can compete globally for the best jobs and stimulate new investment is the long-term solution.
It appears likely state lawmakers will be facing another large budget hole for the 2012 fiscal year, which starts July 1. What are your suggestions on how to deal with it? More budget cuts, or do you have some ideas to increase revenue?
A centerpiece of my plan to move Oklahoma forward is a biennial budget cycle that would require more businesslike budget planning and review of existing revenues and expenditures. Our current system keeps us in a perpetual crisis mode. We certainly don't need any ideas from Washington, D.C.
House Republican leaders have said they want to work to shore up the state's underfunded pension systems. Do you have any suggestions, and do you support addressing that issue this year?
Yes, I have a plan. Restoring fiscal soundness to the pension system will be a key benefit of my proposal to move to a biennial budget cycle. Better long-term planning, investment management and improved state credit ratings will help move us from crisis mode and shore up Oklahoma's retirement systems.
Tax revenues for the state have come in an average 5 percent for the first two months of this fiscal year. If economic growth is at least 4 percent for the fiscal year, the income tax rate is to be cut from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent. Do you prefer letting those tax cuts go into effect or suspending them?
Every effort must be made to ease the tax burden on all Oklahomans whenever and wherever possible. In addition, I believe my new biennial budget approach will yield new approaches and opportunities that may allow lower taxes and healthy growth of resources to fund education, public safety and transportation.
Both of you oppose State Question 744, which would require more money for public schools but without providing a new revenue source to pay for it. If the question passes in November, how would you suggest the state meet the measure's funding requirements, which are estimated to be about $1 billion in three years?
I am proud of my record of supporting teachers in Oklahoma. I do not think State Question 744 is the best solution. If it does pass, there will not be very many options besides dramatic cuts or shifting some services to the local level.
Is Oklahoma's state government about the right size, or are cuts needed? If so, what would you cut back?
Oklahomans want excellence in education, protection from criminals, safe roads and bridges, and job opportunities and economic growth. Some resources for these goals can be found by thorough examination of state and local governments. We must streamline government by introducing new information technologies and eliminating program duplication and layers of bureaucracy.