WASHINGTON— Gov. Mary Fallin, preparing to lead a national conference of governors, rejected President Barack Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage and defended Common Core academic standards that have generated opposition in Oklahoma and other states.
Meeting with reporters at the hotel hosting the National Governors Association meeting, Fallin said she opposed raising the federal minimum wage “because I’m concerned that it would destroy jobs, and especially small business owners can’t afford to increase their minimum wage.”
Obama told Democratic governors at the White House on Friday that he was going to continue to press Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, saying it would benefit 16 million Americans and boost the nation’s economy.
“And this is not just good policy; it also happens to be good politics, because the truth of the matter is the overwhelming majority of Americans think that raising the minimum wage is a good idea,” Obama said. “That is true for independents, that is true for Democrats and it’s true for Republicans.”
Fallin said a lot of entry-level jobs in Oklahoma pay more than the current $7.25 per hour minimum wage because businesses are competing for employees. She said markets should determine wages and states should be left to create their own wage policies.
Fallin, chairman of the National Governors Association, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, vice chairman, expressed frustration with opposition to the Common Core standards for English and math for schoolchildren adopted by 45 states.
Hundreds of opponents protested the standards at the Oklahoma Capitol last week, urging leaders to repeal the standards.
“The intent of Common Core was to raise academic standards, increase rigor in the classroom and then to measure the results,” Fallin said. “I think that’s a goal that everyone can support and would support, but there’s been a lot of information about Common Core that has not been accurate, whether it’s been on the Internet or there’s been something that’s been published.”
The standards were developed by governors with input from educators and the business community, she said, and are not part of any federal program or mandate. Alleviating concerns about the standards will require educating people about “what they are not,” Fallin said.
Hickenlooper said, “Governors create this thing and it’s governors saying, ‘How can we save money and set high standards and do more cost-effectively and save all these taxpayers money’ and suddenly it’s part of a conspiracy?”
“It’s frustrating,” Fallin said.
The conference runs through Sunday and will include a meeting with Obama, along with sessions on a range of topics.