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Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on blocking Obamacare and balancing the budget

Thursday, March 24, 2011
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HH: I’m pleased to welcome now to the Hugh Hewitt Show Governor Mary Fallin of the great state of Oklahoma. Hello, Governor, welcome.

MF: Well, glad to be with you today.

HH: It’s great to talk with you. It’s the anniversary of Obamacare. A couple of days ago, you went to the Oklahoma legislature and proposed an alternative to Obamacare. What was it, Governor?

MF: Well, you know, Hugh, I’ve had the opportunity to serve both as a Congresswoman and now as a Governor. And I feel like Oklahoma knows better what Oklahoma needs versus what Washington thinks we need, and what the Obama administration thinks we need with health care. And so basically, when I was talking to our legislature, I told them that we’re under federal law, required to working towards what they call the exchanges. And I don’t want the federal government coming in and telling us how we’re going to provide a federal health care system, and what our exchanges are going to look like. And in fact, Oklahoma passed a constitutional amendment just last November saying that we believe the individual mandate under the federal health care law is unconstitutional. And so one of the messages I’m giving our legislators are that Oklahoma wants to have its own individual, innovative solution to how we can create better access to care, how we can create better, affordable care for health care, and we don’t want the federal government coming in and telling us what to do. But under federal law, by 2013, if we don’t have a proposal of the exchange, some type of plan in place, the federal government will come in and tell Oklahoma what we have to do. And I don’t want that to happen. And until the federal law is overturned, it’s the federal law.

HH: What do the people of Oklahoma think about Obamacare one year out?

MF: Well, we voted by a huge margin to voice our opinion that we don’t want to be under a federal health care system. We don’t believe in a national health care system, and I think it passed by well over, I think it was like 68% of the vote in Oklahoma. And now, it’s against our constitution to go under a federal health care system. And so we sued on behalf of our state on the basis that we believe it’s unconstitutional on the individual mandate, and Oklahoma is going to be proceeding down that line. And I hope that Congress is able to overturn the federal health care bill. But…and frankly, President Obama has told us that he’s had a lot of challenges for it, against the health care bill, and he doesn’t believe it’s going to be overturned.

HH: Now I have been helping the Health Care Compact organization, www.healthcarecompact.org, try and publicize their effort to get states to join together to say send us the money, we’ll fix the job. What do you think of the compact approach, Governor?

MF: Well, I do think it’s important for like-minded conservative governors, and like-minded conservative states to band together and do everything that we can to keep our free market health care system alive. As I said, I was in Congress during the whole debate, and now being on the other side of the issue, too, it’s not just theory, it’s practicality. I have a budget that I have to manage, I have unfunded mandates that are coming down upon me with the new federal health care bill itself. It’s a plan that I believe will destroy jobs, certainly take away our freedom and our choice of the type of health care we want to have. It certainly raises taxes, has unfunded mandates, will cost the state of Oklahoma a lot of money at a time when we have a budget shortfall. So anything that will help give us some relief in getting out from under this massive new federal takeover of our health care system is something I would support.

HH: Now Governor, I’ve got to ask you, you’re part of the freshmen class of governors along with Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Governor Martinez in New Mexico. How are you enjoying the job?

MF: I love the job. It’s a lot of work, and it’s a great opportunity to be able to serve the state. There’s certainly a lot of challenges. And like I said, having the opportunity to be on this side as governor, but also knowing some of the challenges that we have from Washington with unfunded mandates, whether it’s the health care bill, maybe it’s the EPA and regional haze, and some of the rules and regulations to restrictions of drilling for oil and gas, or whatever it might be, it really has opened my eyes as to how states can be hampered, hamstrung by the federal government. And whether it’s rules, regulations, tax increases or just some of the policies that have hurt our economy from what was done in the hosing market to the financial regulatory reform, just the big spending, the debt, the deficit, the unfunded mandates.

HH: Have you balanced your budget yet? Or is that still a little down the road?

MF: Well, I have submitted a balanced budget, and I am balancing a $500 million dollar shortfall in Oklahoma. And one of the ways I did that was to propose cuts, and targeted cuts in spending, trying to protect the priorities of our state such as education, infrastructure, law enforcement, corrections and health, and taking cuts, they’re a little larger in other areas that are not quite as essential in those services, but also proposing a lot of government reform. One of the things I found in Oklahoma, among all of the different state agencies is that we have 76 different financial accounting systems instead of just one. It’s a waste of money.

HH: Oh, goodness. Governor, good luck with that. Keep coming back. It’s great to make your acquaintance and have you on, and good luck balancing the budget and pushing forward a health care system that’s independent of Washington, D.C., Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.

End of interview.

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