We don't know who owns the bonds. We don't know how much money the turnpike authority truly spends! However, we do know that not one dime of the toll gate money comes back to the state treasury. Not to mention that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority doesn't pay any property taxes.
It's time to take back the turnpikes by first demanding a truly independent-ordered forensic audit of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. I won't be surprised if that audit uncovers millions of dollars in waste and outright fraud. From there, as Governor, I will work with the legislature to begin the process to dismantle the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and bring these roads back into the control of the people of Oklahoma.
Whether it's storm shelters for all Oklahoma children, or a functional corrections system, as Governor I will be on the side of the people and fight for the best interest of everyday, hard-working Oklahomans.
As the state that sits in the middle of Tornado Alley, it is time for safe and structurally sound storm shelters--using the most up to date building codes and technology to be built in each of our schools.
I have a plan to use the existing corporate franchise tax, to allocate funds for local school districts to use in constructing these new storm shelters. If ever there were a time for us to do something big, something on a grand scale, now is the time and this is the issue.
"If we're serious about addressing the needs of state government, we need to be serious about growing our economy, and raising taxes is not the way to do that," Shannon told the AP in an interview earlier this month. "You do that by allowing people and businesses to keep more of the money they earn. When they do, they either spend it or invest it, and that's how you grow your state, not by raising taxes."
Department of Commerce has made this plan available at www.okcommerce.gov. It is designed to be a policy guide to answer questions like: which tax credits are most effective at creating jobs? Which industries should we focus our efforts on as we work to modernize, update or reduce regulation? Most importantly, how can we best attract the jobs of the future?
The answer, as our study shows, is by strengthening our workforce. One way to do that is by emphasizing STEM--or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics--in all levels of public education. STEM jobs are now growing at a rate that is three times faster than non-STEM jobs.
Only self-imposed limitations on imagination and commitment can hold us back. Thanks to EDGE, our state has a unique tool to nurture research and enterprise that will create good-paying jobs and growth opportunities. But, the endowment remains far below the ultimate goal of $1 billion.
Each year that we fail to act puts us at a greater competitive disadvantage. By dedicating future interest earnings from the Rainy Day Fund as well as a portion of future annual state investment earnings, the cutting-EDGE investment of today will become the cutting-EDGE research and jobs of tomorrow. I urge you to join me in establishing a permanent funding source for this critical endowment.
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