OKLAHOMA CITY —
Republican Mary 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 took office Monday on a raw winter day 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 movies of the past. In the movie, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, when she impassionedly declared “There is no place like home.” Well, truly for me there is no place like Oklahoma, and I am proud to call it my home,” Fallin said.
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 another approach, a different approach, a modern approach.“
“My administration will be focused on creating jobs and growing our state economy, not our state government.”
She said Oklahoma throughout its history has rebounded from down times — citing specifically natural and economic disasters and the April 15, 1995, bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
“Yes, we have confronted difficult times - injustices, dust bowls, oil busts, a great depression, a bombing and now a great recession. But Oklahoma has always emerged a stronger, better state because of the tenacity and resiliency of our people,“ she said.
She also called herself an “ Oklahoman who respects, embraces and celebrates our conservative values, the presence of divine guidance, the blessings of freedom, the privilege of self-government and the power of the people.“