Governor hopefuls square off in forum
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
1/13/10 at 4:43 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — At least three of Oklahoma's gubernatorial candidates do not support a state question to increase per-pupil spending to the regional average.
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and Attorney General Drew Edmondson, both Democrats, and Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, said they support funding for common education but that the regional-average requirement would hurt other functions of state government.
The three participated in a forum sponsored Tuesday by Leadership Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Community College, where the forum was held.
U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Okla., was in Washington and did not participate.
State Question 744, backed by the Oklahoma Education Association, is expected to be among a number of state questions on the November ballot. The measure would require the Legislature to bring per-pupil spending to the regional average, at an estimated cost of $850 million.
Edmondson questioned whether the measure would be enforceable. Money to fund it would come from the budgets of other agencies, he said.
State agencies have been told to reduce their budgets in light of declining revenue this fiscal year, and additional cuts are possible.
Askins called the measure "well-intentioned," but she said it would hurt other areas of education, such as early childhood and CareerTech.
It also would erode dollars for higher education, putting more pressure on students, and tuition and fees would increase, too, Askins said.
Brogdon said the requirement would "have a terrible impact on the budget."
The measure would take control from the Legislature and affect the state's next governor, he said.
The candidates were asked about their views on Oklahoma's status as first in the nation in incarcerating women.
commented that people in prison worked hard to get there, but he said the state needs to address the underlying social reasons behind the ranking.
If the state could address the underlying problems, it would save money in the long run, he said.
Askins said being first in the nation in the number of incarcerated women per capita "is not acceptable, and it has been studied to death."
Historically, Oklahoma has invested very little in community-based resources, she said. The state should invest more in mental health and drug programs to deter people from criminal behavior, she said.
Brogdon called the incarceration rate "shameful" and said little training goes on in prison.
He said such training could make inmates good, productive people when they are released.
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins: She says a per-pupil spending increase proposal is well-intentioned but would hurt education in other areas.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson: He questions whether a per-pupil spending measure would be enforceable.
State Sen. Randy Brogdon: He says a state question on per-pupil spending would wreak havoc on the budget.