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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin will be featured speaker for Phoenix conservative group

Oklahoma's governor along with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will speak to the Goldwater Institute during its annual fundraising dinner.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: September 29, 2012 at 1:07 am •  Published: September 29, 2012

An Arizona conservative group likes what Gov. Mary Fallin is doing and has scheduled her to serve as a featured speaker for an annual event that attracts more than 1,000 political, business, civic and philanthropic leaders.

Fallin, along with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, will speak Nov. 13 at the Goldwater Dinner in Phoenix. The event benefits the Goldwater Institute, a nonprofit advocacy and research organization that supports policies favoring lower taxes, limited government spending and school choice.

Starlee Rhoades, vice president of the Goldwater Institute, named after the late Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, said the group is impressed with Fallin's efforts this year to reduce Oklahoma's personal income tax.

Health grant rebuffed

Fallin, Oklahoma's first female governor, encouraged lawmakers for four months to cut the state's top personal income tax rate, but legislators and the governor were unable to reach a final agreement before the session ended in late May.

Rhoades said the group also applauds Fallin's decision to return a $54.6 million federal grant last year that would have been used to set up an insurance exchange system. Fallin and Republican legislative leaders at first accepted the grant, then rejected the offer after hearing complaints from Republicans and conservatives in the state. Oklahomans in 2010 voted to opt out of the federal health care law.

“We thought that was a bold move and the right move,” Rhoades said. “From our perspective she's doing a fantastic job in putting limited government laws and initiatives into place.”

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