Patrick B. McGuigan
Republican state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond, the incumbent in District 41, is seeking reelection. He is Senate sponsor of the version of income tax reduction partnered with legislation from the state House to not only reduce tax rates, but put the unpopular levy on a glide path to elimination.
On Friday, Jolley said, “We were very hopeful to be able to have significant tax reform. Obviously, that's very difficult because everybody that believes that they need tax resources are lobbying the Capitol hard. Governor Fallin is staying true in saying she wants to keep a tax cut, I'm staying true to that.”
“We're going to try our best to make sure we don't have some minor little reduction, but that we see significant savings to Oklahoma taxpayers by not spending every dollar and letting them put money back into our pockets. We're going to work our best to get it done.”
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK – conducted on another windy day in Edmond, in this case at the beautiful new Integris Hospital facility – Jolley explained his reasons for seeking what would be his third term at the Capitol.
He reflected, “I think we're done a good job in Oklahoma of not being like the federal government. Governor Mary Fallin and I are trying to do everything we can to bring jobs and grow our economy, to fight against the federal health care law that we call 'ObamaCare,' and to try to make sure that our citizens are protected from the federal government's overreach.
“We've got a conservative record of accomplishments in Oklahoma. If you take a look at what I've been able to do in the state Legislature over the last seven and a half years, I think you'll see that we talk about as Republicans reducing the size and scope of state government – I've actually done that. I've actually reduced the number of state agencies, I've carried legislation that has saved the state millions upon millions of dollars.
“Look at IT [information technology] consolidation, that is this year going to save almost $10 million just in one of the first years of implementation. It's going to wind up saving the state tens of millions of dollars that won't have to be spent, that won't have to be added to the state budget.
“We've got a conservative record, of being not only fiscally conservative but also promoting good social values. I've passed landmark pro-life legislation. There's more that needs to be done to make sure that the weakest and those … among us that need the most help are protected.”
Jolley continued, “We believe in conservative government in Oklahoma, and that's exactly what we have. Mary Fallin is not Barack Obama – thankfully, and quite frankly there aren't many Harry Reid types in the state Senate. There's a few, but they're all liberal Democrats and they're terming out.
We've got a great future ahead of us in Oklahoma; we just need to make sure we stay on track.”
Encouraged to list three key issues in the current session and the years ahead, Jolley responded, “First off, the income tax – and what we're seeing come out of Kansas and Missouri, where Kansas and Missouri are almost getting ready to make Oklahoma a sandwich between Texas and themselves, by having their discussions about significantly reducing if not flat out eliminating their income taxes.
“If that were to happen, Oklahoma would be sitting in the middle of no income tax to the south, and no income taxes to the north or northeast. That's not doable for Oklahoma. We've got to make sure we're competitive economically, to make sure that our taxes are as low as they possibly can be so that we can build both growth and investment in our state. That is a major factor we have to address.”
The second key issue consisted of one word: “Water. We've got to make sure that we protect our water interests in Oklahoma. Water interests here in Oklahoma are the reason why we're able to grow – and Texas is desperately wanting it.
“We have interests here within the state that are trying to claim that the water belongs to them or they should be able to control it. Governor Fallin is working very hard, and I'm supporting her as well as [Attorney General Scott] Pruitt in making sure that Oklahoma defends its water rights, and that we're able to plan for the next 50 to 100 years of state growth.
“Lastly, we've got to keep a vigilant eye on the intrusion of the federal government in all areas. We've got to make sure that we're appropriately responding.
“I applaud General Pruitt efforts to establish the Office of Federalism, to make sure that the federal government keeps in check. Whether it's Medicaid, or whether it's education or whether it's any other area – transportation – we've got to make sure that we're fighting against federal government intrusion, and keep loyal and keep true to what Oklahomans do.
“That's why I've supported things like allowing Oklahoma to develop its own health care marketplace, for Oklahoma to its own block grants, which was applauded as a conservative alternative to ObamaCare by a lot of conservative institutions. Those are the types of things we need to be doing in Oklahoma.”