Askins, Fallin slam State Question 744

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 27-Oct-2010

With just a week until Election Day, gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin told about 600 business and community leaders today that State Question 744 would have devastating effects on Oklahoma should it pass.

Askins and Fallin both appeared at a gubernatorial forum on Tuesday (October 26), which was sponsored by The State Chamber. The two candidates fielded questions by moderator Kevin Ogle about the state’s education system, business incentives, lawsuit reform and their plan to grow Oklahoma’s economy and balance the state budget next year.

Like their unified position against SQ 744, both candidates expressed their support of Oklahoma’s business community and the need to improve Oklahoma’s ability to provide a skilled workforce with a push on job creation.

The candidates said they support the continuation and funding of the state’s Opportunity Fund—which allows the governor to make an impact on economic development projects by providing a financial incentive to encourage businesses to move to Oklahoma — and the Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) Fund — which encourages economic growth through research and innovation and high-paying jobs creation.

Education was a focus for both candidates during the forum. Fallin said if elected, she will work to reduce the remediation rates in Oklahoma to make sure students are adequately prepared for the workforce or college. She also hopes to get more education dollars into the classroom.

Askins said she will work to retain highly qualified teachers in the classroom and give them the flexibility to do their job. Such efforts would work to reduce high school dropout and remediation rates in Oklahoma and increase the number of college graduates, she said.

State Chamber President Fred Morgan said the forum was important to get both candidates in front of the state’s business community and ask them questions about how they hope to grow Oklahoma’s economy in the future.

“Regardless of who wins, our next governor will face a challenging budget next year and it is important that she is familiar with the business leaders in our state who are working every day to create jobs and wealth in Oklahoma,” said Morgan.

“Luckily, we have two candidates in the race who know the challenges our businesses face day-to-day. But, more importantly, they both understand how to overcome those challenges and work to grow and diversify our economy and create jobs,” Morgan concluded.