Staff and Wire Reports
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Republican Mary Fallin took the oath of office Monday afternoon, becoming Oklahoma's first female governor.
Fallin recognized the historic nature of becoming Oklahoma's first woman governor on Monday but said she is foremost an Oklahoma conservative and vowed to improve the state's economy by attracting jobs, improving education and shrinking government.
Fallin and other statewide elected officials were scheduled to take office Monday amid a snowy forecast on the south steps of the state Capitol.
A longtime fixture of Oklahoma politics, the Tecumseh native said she was excited about returning to her home state after spending four years in Congress representing Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District.
"I could not agree more with the famous words of Dorothy in one of my favorite childhood movies, 'The Wizard of Oz,' when she impassionedly declared 'There is no place like home,"' Fallin said in remarks prepared for delivery after her inauguration. "Well, for me, there truly is no place like Oklahoma, and I am proud to call it my home."
Fallin is Oklahoma's 27th governor and replaces Democrat Brad Henry, who left office after eight years because of term limits.
Fallin reiterated her campaign promise to make Oklahoma more business friendly, improve public education and reduce the size of state government.
"In Oklahoma what we need are more jobs, not more taxes -- let me add -- more private sector jobs," Fallin said. "We must make certain Oklahoma's business climate can attract new capital, new investments, which produce new jobs and retain existing jobs."
Among her plans to improve the business climate in Oklahoma are changes to Oklahoma's tort and workers' compensation laws, streamlining "government bureaucracy" and eliminating tax incentives that do not produce jobs.
With Oklahoma facing an expected budget shortfall of several hundred million dollars, Fallin acknowledged there will be difficult decisions that need to be made during the legislative session that begins Feb. 7.
"But with that challenge comes the opportunity to seriously examine how we conduct the people's business," Fallin said. "It is time to ask the probing questions, the 'why' questions – why have we done it like this for years and why can't we consider a different approach, a new approach, a modern approach. My administration will be focused on creating jobs and growing our state economy, not our state government."