How would you work to improve the state's economy?
To improve the economy we need to create the best possible environment for job creation. I will do that by working to reduce cost-drivers for business, like excessive workers' compensation costs and legal fees. I'll improve education to ensure that we have the kind of highly skilled work force that attracts good jobs. Finally, I'll work to scale back taxes on individuals and businesses.
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 in how to deal with it? More budget cuts, or do you have some ideas to increase revenue?
The last thing Oklahoma needs during this recession is a tax hike on families or businesses. The way to grow our revenue stream is to create jobs and grow the economy, not to nickel and dime our citizens with fee increases and taxes. Government will have to be smaller, smarter and more efficient. Our state government must learn to live within its means.
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?
First off, anyone who has paid into a state pension system has been promised a pension and certain benefits, and it's very important that we honor that agreement. In the long run, however, some of our public pension plans are at risk of going bankrupt. Preventing a situation like that certainly needs to be a priority.
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?
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