McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

October 15, 2010

Governor candidates show similarities, differences

OKLAHOMA CITY — The two gubernatorial candidates have traveled nearly to every corner of the state in the past few months. From campaigning at county fairs or before local business groups, Democrat Jari Askins and Republican Mary Fallin want to prove they are best suited to address the many issues facing the state.

Askins and Fallin show similarities in their positions of opposing tax increases and making job growth their No. 1 priority. But the two candidates clash on issues such as strategies to cut spending and challenging federal policies.

Creating jobs

Norman resident Don Griffith said he watched many friends and family members lose jobs since the state’s unemployment rate climbed from 3.5 percent in 2008 to 6.8 percent now. He said he worries if the state is not proactive, employers will not be convinced to start hiring again.

• Askins said jobs are not created at “21st and Lincoln” referring to the state Capitol. However, she said the state’s top focus should be to retain jobs and prepare students to enter high-paying careers.

“We’ve done this in areas such as biomedicine research and aerospace,” she said. “But we still need to continue efforts that will encourage students to go into engineering and high-tech research that is important to the knowledge-based jobs that will help us raise our per capita income levels.”

• Fallin said the state could prevent job losses and potentially woo new employers by creating a more business friendly culture in the state. She said this could be done by keeping taxes low, improving workers’ compensation programs, creating better tort reform and boosting career-targeted education efforts.

“We need to addressing the impediments of cost drivers (to businesses) as I call it,” she said. “We also need to be focusing on education, because a stronger workforce means a stronger economy.”

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