Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma's Candidates for Governor State Views on Education

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma's Candidates for Governor State Views on Education

Article excerpt

They all agreed that education was important.

And none of them liked the idea of new taxes.

But after that, four of the state's six candidates for governor began sharply defining themselves during a Wednesday evening forum at Oklahoma City University's Meinders School of Business.

Speaking to a full house in the school's Kerr-McGee auditorium, Democrats Jari Askins and Drew Edmondson joined Republicans Roger Jackson and Robert Hubbard and the five candidates for state superintendent of public instruction - Jerry Combrink, Susan Paddack, Larry Huff, Janet Barresi and Brian Kelly - for a two-hour discussion about state policy.

Combrink, Paddock and Huff are Democrats; Barresi and Kelly are Republicans. Republican gubernatorial candidates Randy Brogdon and Mary Fallin did not attend the event.

Asked about next year's budget, Askins acknowledged the 2012 fiscal year "would be extremely tough."

"At the beginning of the session I'll ask them (the state Legislature) to focus on the budget," she said. "That would be a precursor for two-year budget."

She said she would push lawmakers to focus on education.

"Everything we do has to be about education," she said.

Edmondson said the next governor needs to focus on "growing the economy."

"We have to focus on the economy and make it stronger to provide the funds for those services," he said. "Our priorities have got to be education, public safety and health."

Hubbard countered that he would cut state spending to balance the state's budget.

"We're going to have to work together to make difficult cuts in spending," he said. "We're going to have to look at things like the Department of Human Services. There it's just, checks out, checks out. We also need to look at corrections. We really need to look at those two agencies."

Jackson said the state was going broke.

"My first act as governor would be to cut my pay to $50,000," he said. "I would donate the remaining $97,000 back to the state."

Jackson said he would also cut the pay of department and agency leaders throughout state government and create central departments in the areas of legal, human resources, information technology and accounting. …

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