Candidates for Oklahoma governor speak in Durant

Published: Mar. 8, 2018 at 8:49 PM CST
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With current Governor Mary Fallin's term limited, 12 people have filed to replace her so far. Thursday, seven of those came to Southeastern Oklahoma State University to speak to the public.

The event was hosted by the Oklahoma Academy, a nonprofit that works to bring attention to policy issues.

"It's very important to provide the forums across the state, so that the citizens can hear how the candidates would address important issues," Julie Knutson with the Oklahoma Academy said.

Issues like how to address the projected $168 million budget shortfall for next year.

"I propose that we have an office of accounting and budgets, where we have professionals that are putting the numbers together," Republican candidate and State Auditor Gary Jones said.

"We need more control over the entire budget, all $22 billion, we need line item budgeting," Republican candidate and businessman Kevin Stitt said.

"We don't do audits on what we have, so first we have to know what we have for the budget, before we can spend it," Republican candidate and businessman Gary Richardson said.

Another topic, how to create new sources of revenue for municipalities.

"We certainly ought to tax internet sales because that is revenue that would go to municipalities," Democratic candidate and former Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.

"For us to suggest that perhaps they could also do ad valorem taxes or internet taxes, we need to let the locals decide," Democratic candidate and Senator Connie Johnson said.

The candidates also discussed how to reform the criminal justice system, particularly overcrowding in prisons.

"We need to prioritize our sentencing guidelines, we need to prioritize putting people in jail who hurt people," Libertarian candidate and businessman Rex Lawhorn said.

"Prohibition does not work, it incentivizes bad behavior from everybody involved, from users, to dealers to law enforcement," Libertarian candidate and former chairman Chris Powell said.

The last day to register to vote is June 1 for the primaries on June 26. The general election is Nov. 6.