Prioritizing Economic Prosperity
As I travel the country visiting my 165 field offices for Gateway Mortgage, I see firsthand the growth and momentum many of the other states are experiencing. In 2016, Oklahoma had -3% GDP growth. In 2017, our state faced a $900 million budget deficit. Too many of our children and grandchildren are leaving the state for better opportunities. I refuse to sit back and let this continue. As governor, I will be committed to growth and prosperity for our entire state. How are we going to do this?
- Capitalize on President Trump’s tax cuts that are leveling the playing field for America to compete in the global market place. With companies moving jobs back to the U.S. and repatriating dollars, Oklahoma is prime to attract this opportunity and diversify our economy with the right kind of leadership. On my first day as governor, the nation will know that Oklahoma is open for business.
- Recruit, recruit, recruit. Several years ago, Oklahoma ended its business recruitment programs in other states. Around the same time, Texas and Arkansas ramped up their recruitment efforts. As governor, I will be committed to being on the front lines of recruiting new business to Oklahoma. As a CEO, I will know how to speak the language of job creators and ensure our state signs good contracts that won’t put us at a disadvantage in the future.
- Licensing reform, leveraging the new data base built by the Labor Commission. We need to cut unnecessary red tape and remove wasteful licensing fees for job creators in Oklahoma. The percentage of the Oklahoma workforce licensed by the state is 25 percent — higher than all but 11 states.
Reforming Our Education System
Oklahoma leads the nation in cuts to education funding. Our teachers are underpaid and leaving the state in droves. Too much money fails to reach the classrooms and some school districts have resorted to four-day school weeks. Our leaders are failing our students, our families, and jeopardizing our future. Enough is enough. I will prioritize students and funding for the classroom and invest in the teachers that make a difference every day. It’s time to restore respect to teachers!
- Raise teacher pay so that it matches the pay of teachers in our six-state footprint. With 95 percent of Oklahoma children attending public schools, we must ensure those on the front lines of teaching our children receive the support they need to succeed.
- Require line item budgeting for the Education Department. With added transparency and accountability, we will be able to better force more education dollars into the classroom room from the $2.5 billion that goes to the Department of Education.
- Review ways to empower local communities to best fund the needs of their local schools. I love what we are seeing in Western Oklahoma where energy development is taking schools off the state funding formula and allowing for higher teacher pay. But we still have many counties without these commodities. I like the policy proposed by a conservative group of House legislators to give schools the flexibility to use part of their current property tax revenue on teacher pay instead of being restricted to buildings and infrastructure.
- Expand the use of video technology to deliver AP classes across our state, especially in rural areas where we have bright, hardworking youth but not enough certified teachers. Our farmers and ranchers should not be faced with putting their children on a bus for more than an hour just to access quality education opportunities. Technology must play a stronger role in how we look to the future of delivering our state’s basic, vital public services.
- Recruit, train and retain great teachers. We can build a top ten system that competes with Texas and get teachers flowing across the border in our direction. We must encourage late career professionals with real experience in their field, such as those in STEM, to become fully certified teachers and share their expertise with our students.
Improving Our Infrastructure
Our infrastructure needs immediate attention. Our economic future and the safety of our citizens are at stake. Budget holes and political gamesmanship have crippled maintenance and improvements in roads, bridges, dams and other vital infrastructure. We can no longer kick the can down the road. I will implement a comprehensive, long-term infrastructure plan that provides solutions for our community and paves the way for the high level economic growth that Oklahoma needs.
Fostering a Healthy Oklahoma
State Medicaid spending is out of control. Since 2003, our Medicaid spending ballooned 194% from $714 million to $2.1 billion. No other area of the state budget grew as quickly forcing hospitals to cut core services. I will fight to provide options to our families with quality healthcare while protecting our most vulnerable. For those that fall on hard times, Medicaid must be a trampoline, not a hammock. I will put a stop to the fraud, waste and abuse to ensure the health and future of Oklahomans.
- Audit Medicaid. Both Republican and Democrat states are doing this. The Pew Charitable Trusts reports that Oklahoma had the 11th largest increase in state Medicaid spending as a share of the total state budget over the last decade.
- Address the $30 million mess at the Department of Health and get the agency on track to being a Top Ten performing agency for the state. Establish performance metrics and hold the agency leaders accountable.
- Sell health insurance across state lines to stimulate competition and reduce premiums. The Legislature passed a bill in 2017 authorizing the selling of insurance across state lines, but there are many obstacles to its implementation. I will work with the new insurance commissioner to negotiate compacts with other states to bring about this much-needed competition.
- Bring more telemedicine to rural Oklahoma.
Common Sense Efficiency
The success of state agencies shouldn’t be just about bigger budgets. Success is when the state consistently delivers core service to Oklahomans in a cost-effective, efficient manner. Without line-item budgeting, it’s impossible to know which agencies steward their resources well, which is why I will fight for accountability and transparency. I will implement and standardize audits and hold each agency accountable for how our tax dollars are spent, just like I have done in the private sector the last 19 years.
- Reduce and streamline the 400 agencies, boards, and commissions.
- Give the governor more accountability to fire underperforming agency leaders that are in appointed positions.
- Audit all agencies, establish performance metrics for each agency and hold the agency heads and board members accountable for meeting goals that move us toward being a Top Ten state.
- Budget all state funds. Currently, much of the budget is untouchable by the Legislature. It is time every state agency is held accountable and transparency is enforced.
- Require a line item budget. Currently, the General Appropriations bill gives more than 80 state agencies a big chunk of money. It is hard for the Legislature or the public to see how the money will be used. A line item budget will allow the public to see the spending and for elected officials to more effectively eliminate wasteful spending.