Gubernatorial Candidates Discuss Infrastructure, State Departments

Tuesday, September 18th 2018, 6:24 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck, Bonnie Campo

Anyone who drives on Oklahoma’s roads and bridges knows they’re crumbling. Roughly 3,000 miles of roads are considered in poor condition, and 170 bridges are either obsolete or structurally deficient.

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Drew Edmondson said blame the legislature for removing $500 million from ODOT’s budget over two years.

“That set the rolling 8-year plan back at least 18 months. So, we need to keep that on schedule. Make sure they get the money they need,” said Edmondson. “They also took gasoline money aimed for county governments. So, county commissioners are having the same problems with county roads and bridges."

Edmondson said his plan to repair the state’s crumbling infrastructure is to raise the tax on oil and natural gas production, called gross production, to 7 percent; lift the exemption on capital gains tax and add a 50-cent tax to cigarettes. He says that will raise 300 million dollars. 

But it’s the same revenue raising plan he is using to fund education.

Read Related Story: Edmondson Releases Tax Plan To Pay For Education

“I think it's certainly enough in the first year or so, and then we'll see if the growth that appears to be coming continues,” said Edmondson.

Edmondson said he also backs having department heads run departments working with their respective boards.

Republican Candidate Kevin Stitt has continually said that state government should be run like a business.

Stitt is known for his success in the private sector, as he founded his own company, Gateway Mortgage, in 2000.

The company has been the target of many attack ads in previous months.  Just to clear things up, in 2008 a routine state audit found violations "by staff in the Georgia office".

Read Related Story: Kevin Stitt’s Business Record

Kevin Stitt said he dismissed those employees, paid a $2,000 fee to the state, and agreed not to reapply for a license in the state of Georgia.  However, as of June 2018, Gateway and Georgia have agreed that the company can reapply for license at any time according to Stitt's campaign.

Regarding Oklahoma, Stitt said he wants to promote jobs, education and infrastructure. He said his goal is for the state to rank within the top 10 in the country in each of those categories.

Stitt’s plan is based on strong leadership within state agencies, and a shake-up of protocol.

“I believe, that we have to have more transparency, accountability in how all those different agencies are run. That's why I have asked for the authority in those top 10 agencies, to have the authority to hire and fire the agency heads,” said Stitt.

Stitt said with those changes, Oklahoma can better spend it's $20 billion budget.