PAF Governor David Walters

PAF Governor David Walters


>>It is my pleasure
to introduce the
Honorable David Walters,
former governor of
State of Oklahoma.
Governor Walters grew up on a
cotton farm in Western Oklahoma
where the importance of hard
work and education was instilled
in him and his four
brothers [inaudible]–
from the [inaudible]
and then MBA
from the Harvard
Business School.
His work ethic and
tenacity moved him rapidly
through a remarkable
and productive career.
From age 22 to 26, he
served the OU administration
as associate vice president.
He was a project analyst
for Governor David Boren,
received his degree from
Harvard, and became the second
to highest ranking officer at
the OU Health Sciences Center.
At age 31, he entered the
commercial real estate
development business
and was appointed
by Governor George Nigh to
serve as chair of the Department
of Human Services and co-chair
of a state government
reform commission.
At age 34, he was nominated
as the gubernatorial candidate
for the Democratic
Party and came within 1%
of defeating Governor Henry
Bellmon in the 1986 election.
Four years later, he became
the 24th governor of the state
of Oklahoma, he carried 75 of
the 77 counties in the state.
Governor Walters set a
15-year record in job growth,
oversaw a 30% increase in
education funding and work
with the Oklahoma legislature
to pass the first capital
improvement bond issued
in Oklahoma in 25 years.
That led to a $350
million investment
in Oklahoma’s higher
education facilities.
He also advanced the first
workers compensation insurance
reform in more than
a decade resulting
in substantial rate reductions.
During his administration,
Governor Walters led trade
delegations to eight nations
in Oklahoma’s international
trade grew twice
at the national average.
One of his first acts
as governor was to speak
out in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in
favor of sovereign nation status
of Oklahoma’s Native
American tribes.
He also started and signed
the first state compacts
with the Oklahoma–
with Oklahoma’s Native
American tribes.
Governor Walters currently
serves as president and CEO
of Walters Power International
which oversees power development
work around the world.
In addition, his Oklahoma
property investors company owns
commercial buildings in
Tulsa in Oklahoma City.
Governor Walters recently helped
the Cherokee Nation secure a
renewable energy wind lease
that will generate millions
of dollars for the
Cherokee Nation for decades.
Governor Walters is married to
Rhonda, they are devoted parents
and grandparents to their
children and grandchildren.
As I was thinking
about introducing Governor
Walters this morning,
I wrote down some words that
remind me of David Walters.
Smart, tough, articulate,
forceful, courageous,
and visionary, and the
last was my friend.
Please welcome Governor
David Walters.
[ Applause ]
>>Thank you, Mr. President.
That was a lovely introduction.
Thank you so much.
It makes me feel both tired and
awe when I hear that litany so.
I’m not tired but I’m, you
know, I’m getting there.
The– I was fixated while you
were talking on that picture
up there because I almost pick
that tie to put on this morning
and that would have
been terrible.
You would have thought
I had a single tie
in my entire wardrobe.
Well, listen, I’m
flattered to be invited
to this fifth public
affairs forum
which is an annual gathering
and I’m delighted to be here.
I think it’s so constructive
for an institution like this
to invite former officials
to come in and take a moment
to pause with you and
talk about public policy,
and we have an ability to be a
little bit more unrestrained.
And the older you get
you lose your filters,
so you can say things
[inaudible] running
for reelection next time.
So I think it’s a very
constructive thing
for an organization like this
to do that and understand
and thinking about
including mixing
in over time existing
public officials
so that be another
dynamic piece of this
and I congratulate your
leadership and all of you
on the campus that put
these events together.
I want to not to
make this too much
on mutual admiration society
but I’m a Jerry Steward fan
and just a word about your
president as he said I grew
up on a small farm,
four brothers.
We were the first in our
family tree to go to college
and all did well and put
together productive lives
but we were poor and we–
but we didn’t know that.
It didn’t really dawn
on us that we were poor.
We didn’t know anybody
that wasn’t poor.
And so, at Western
Oklahoma, Caddo,
Oklahoma out in the countryside,
life seem pretty good to me.
I had two loving parents and
a lot of honoree brothers
and so we had a good life
but we just simply didn’t
realized how poor we were.
Jerry Steward on the other hand,
I’ve heard his compelling story
of coming up from
a youth of poverty.
I think he was poor enough
and I think he knew he
was poor at that time.
I think it was a
self evident to him
but I’ve always admired
his drive and his tenacity
and his ability to get himself
a good education and to breakout
of poverty and to begin
an extraordinary career
when you think about it.
I mean to begin in public
schools teaching kids and then
to become an attorney,
a very accomplished
attorney then get elected
to the Oklahoma, House
of Representatives,
as Chairman of the Judiciary
Committee and finds his way
to this fine institution
first as a Regent and then
as General Councilor and as Vice
President, Executive VP and now
to be in his 5th year as
President of this university.
A lot of people serve as
president of university
but it just strikes me that
somebody who has had the kind
of experiences that he had
and who credits his education.
His ability to get that
education to break that cycle
of poverty is just
remarkable that to be applied
in an institution like
OCCC where you’re known
for accessibility or you’re
known for affordability,
you’re known for great
quality programs here.
And so, they have his hands
working with the hands
of all these administrators and
here guiding this institution
to help lift up others
just like he was lifted up.
He’s really quite an inspiration
frankly and so I want
to congratulate your president
and appreciate his [inaudible].
[ Applause ]
Plus he’s a member of the Rotary
Club 29 that I’m a member of
and as your President of
your Board of Regents.
And so, I look forward
to the Q&A and I’ve beg
to President Steward to take a
few questions from the audience
if he’s both the host
and the moderator but if
as we get through– and
those questions I’d love
to have you all thinking
about a question or two
and maybe I will say something
that will stimulate that
or at least I hope
to do just that.
The– I want to give you two
perspectives that I would have
on public policy and the
first perspective has to do
with the opportunity that
our democracy and our system
of government gives to everyone.
And I mean to everyone
to be able to step up
and make a difference.
A lot of people in politics
claimed to be outsiders
but I think I might have
actually been an outsider.
In fact, there was a
recent history written
about former governors and
the title on my section was
“The Outsider” could’ve
been a lot worst
if they put the outsider for me.
We had a dinner last night
and with some former staff
and someone asked why I ran
for office and I made reference
to a satirical 1976
movie called “Network”.
And the older members of the
audience might remember that
but it featured a praise
broadcast about the name
of Howard Beale who
played by Peter Finch,
a great British actor, who
called on his viewers to go
to their windows and
stick their head out
and yell out down the street.
I’m mad as hell and I’m not
going to take it anymore.
And it resulted in a
near nationwide riot
with people hanging their heads
up the window, screaming that–
well I probably wouldn’t have
that point but maybe I was close
because in 1985 and
’86 that we have one
of our terrible economic bust.
There were many strong political
leaders doing their best and
but I was convinced that there
just weren’t enough energy.
There weren’t enough ideas and
frankly, you know, being young
and naive, I just didn’t see
the courage to strike out
and to cause significant change.
So, I decided that I was
not going to take it anymore
and with no money, no
organization, no name ID,
no base of support, I
announced three months,
think how long this
campaign is go now,
I announced three months before
the Democratic primary in 1986
that I was going to
run for governor.
And I was 34 years old.
And as from the president
said, we did a poll right
after I announced it
said, I had 3% name ID.
They were lying because
nobody had ever heard
of me at the time.
The presumptive nature
of that decision to run
for office maybe even some
arrogance, I don’t know
where that would have come from
but maybe a little arrogance,
maybe– and certainly
a lot of naiveté
with no government
experience for me to assume
that I could do a better
job still sort of stuns me
to this day at that age
to be able to step up.
The front runner
was Mike Turpen.
And if you watch “Flashpoint”,
if you read any papers,
Mike Turpen is quite
a personality.
He was running– he was a
sitting Attorney General.
He had 85% name ID, assumed–
presume nominee the Tulsa
World called it the upset
of the decade.
I’ve called to Tulsa
World a couple of times.
I got their quotes out of the
Tulsa World and I did all the
“The Daily Oklahoman” but the
Tulsa World called it the upset
of the decade.
I’d be poor oh Mike for
the privilege to run
against an icon Henry
Bellmon who beat me by–
in a remarkably close election.
Better bruised and broke,
I had to mortgage my home
for goodness sakes, to have help
pay for part of the campaign.
I went back to business thinking
I’d surely got that whatever
that was out of my system.
But sure enough, 1980 came
around four years later,
and again I simply could not see
in the leading candidates
all the voted politicians,
a congressman, a
speaker of the house,
I just didn’t see
the change agents
that I thought Oklahoma
needed and I ran again.
I carried 75 to 77 counties,
as President Steward said,
and it set a 36-year old record
from the margin of victory.
And so, perspective number one
is that if you’re young and
or poor or have no
political heritage
but if you have the tenacity and
care about why you’re running,
yeah you too can become
temporarily famous
and literally hated by
hundreds of thousands
of people that don’t know you.
KTVY at the time, now KFOR
had a camera crew to follow me
around in the campaign
and they produce the–
they were expecting me get beat
early, so they didn’t expect
to have to carry this on for
a long time but it resulted
in a little four part
mini series I played
after the election.
And there is a scene in
there, me wistfully looking
out the window of a
downtown hotel in Tulsa
and they had asked
me the question
about what was the hardest
part of the campaign.
And it’s kind of reflective
of our tribal politics
that we have now on steroids.
But we of course had them
then as well, but I was trying
to explain how difficult it
was to get used to that notion
that there were, you know,
hundreds of thousands
but there were thousands
of people,
who would intensely
dislike you just simply
because you were
running for office
and they really didn’t
know you and that was kind
of the hardest of the campaign.
Like Turpen always said this,
he’s a very quotable guy,
and he was on Belmar for
god’s sake one evening
and somebody asked him
about Oklahoma politics
and he was bouncing around
in his characteristic way
and he said, you know,
politics and show business
for ugly people, you know.
And so, and I think
there are a lot of people
that just would have simply
want to become famous.
But my test today of a candidate
and I get to see a number
of them which I’m very
pleased about people are kind
to come ask my opinion,
but my test is
to ask why they’re running.
Because if I– Because
what I want
to hear is their
attitude towards change,
not how they’re going to win,
not who they’re running against,
but I really want
to hear if they’re–
if they really hang their
head up that window.
If they’re satisfied
with where it is and what
in fact they’re going to do.
So I would just say
that in many ways I–
and prospective one is the
value of being naive and young
and in a way our new
governors is in that category.
He would– He had this
name and I call him naive
but I call myself naive
when I came into office.
The value of it, it’s
got great value is
that you don’t know what
you can’t accomplish.
And so, by just simply
trying a lot of things
that in some cases maybe
are relatively dumb you wind
up accomplishing a great deal.
And so, I’m very impressed by
a number of the new leaders
that are coming into office.
I have JoBeth Hamon
for example is one
of these new young
city council leaders.
During the election,
one of her–
not her opponents but somebody
was supporting somebody else
leaned over to me and
just a guess and said,
do you know she rides a
bicycle to work everyday.
And I was like, no, I didn’t
know that and that god forbid.
When she was– she just
announced and I notice
on Twitter this morning a new
plan for the study of homeless,
so that’s in Oklahoma City
and we can’t do anything
about that, can we?
That’s what those
standard quick thinking is.
Well, who knows if you don’t
try and so a great value comes
from this ability, this system
of ours that allows people
with no resources to really get
involve and it’s just remarkable
to me how much can
be accomplished.
There’s just no excuse if
you have the compassion
and the passion to make change.
Perspective number two is that
I would say public policy,
this sounds a little odd to say,
but public policy is
easier than it looks.
The real change is, in
fact, in my view, possible,
and I had a very interesting
experience Jerry had mention
that governor and I asked
me to lead a reform effort.
It was the governor’s
commission,
100-member commission on reforms
to study all aspects
to state government.
There were no politicians
on this.
It was all citizens.
It was me and some very
distinguished energy company
leader out of Tulsa.
And George [assumed spelling]
was the interesting story,
there was George who’s mad
at Oklahoma City which a lot
of politicians and Democratic
politicians who get mad
at that publisher, that get
mad of the Oklahoma City.
And so, George pick this really
a remarkable leader in Tulsa
and then he asked his staff to
find a nobody in Oklahoma City
that he could just kind of ram
it up that leadership group
by appointing somebody
who nobody knew
and that’s how I got the job.
So I was officially the
“nobody” in that effort.
But what we– what I’ve–
I walked in there thinking
that it was very complicated.
You know, that there are
lots of very tough problems,
very difficult to solve and
most of the private citizens
that went in, went in with very
simple motions about, you know,
well this got to be easy
to fix and yet they walked
out of there thinking, oh
my god, this is complicated,
big and comprehensive
and involve billions
of dollars of this set.
And the other, when I walk out
there thinking, it is simpler
than I would have imagined.
And so, it’s just
interesting that perspective.
And so, when I found is
that real change is possible
if you got merit-based
decisions,
if you got a reasonable
affinity for a good organization
and if you’re creative and some
sense of urgency doesn’t hurt.
I’m going to give 10 quick
examples of activity.
I want to paint a picture and
this is actually a veiled effort
to brag about things we did
but I want to paint a picture
of the activity in our
administration and then draw
out together and appoint
under the second perspective
that I’m sharing with you.
And the first President Steward
mentioned is, it is remarkable
when you think about that
we increase the funding
for public education in Oklahoma
by 30.6% that find point
on it during that term.
Now, and that came out,
there wasn’t just me,
that came out of a
Democratic Legislature
and a Republican
Governor Henry Bellmon
and a Democratically controlled
Legislature getting together,
passing House Bill 1017
which was the moniker
on a massive reform legislation
to improve education.
They passed– In 1990,
they passed a $500 million tax
increase which is extraordinary,
he put it in the days dollars.
We passed last year
maybe 450 million
and everybody thought we
bankrupt to this day, you know,
and yet in 1990, 500 million.
The secret was I came in
office January of ’91.
They left 500 million
of it not funded
and they basically left it
to the next administration
to find the money and we
were fortunate with the help
of a great cabinet
and a great staff,
we found another
500 million savings
which was a piece of work to do.
But we manage to fully
fund that and that resulted
in this huge increase and
improvement in education.
We passed the first
higher education bond issue
as Jerry mentioned that was
deeply involved in coming
up with a compacting
system for tribal nations.
When I came in to office
there was seven law firms
that were working for
the governor’s office.
Essentially suing
or countersuing
of Native American tribes,
we’ve got 39 tribes in Oklahoma,
so there was no end to conflicts
between state government
and the tribal governments.
And it just seemed they
looked like engines
of economic activity to me.
And so, we got rid of the
attorneys, I didn’t have
to save a lot of money.
And we sat down and we work–
began working out compacts.
We didn’t do the initial
gambling compacts.
We started with tobacco compacts
and a few other compacts.
And it was remarkable
because that money funded
that $350 million bond
issue that built–
I’m sure some facilities on this
campus built the first statewide
fiber optic system connecting
higher education, institutions.
The one that system, it
just did remarkable things.
A fantastic boost to
educational infrastructure
and it put these tribes on the
path to cooperative agreements
with state government
that has today resulted
in multibillion dollar budgets.
You don’t have to go very far
down that list of 39 tribes
and add up what they spent,
to get a budget that’s larger
than state government
in Oklahoma.
So, you have several
multibillion dollar tribal
budgets that are doing
extraordinary things.
Third item is we
dreamed up, you know,
a concept called quality jobs.
I was so disappointed when we
miss getting United Airlines,
we have– we put in
the best proposal
to get United Airlines
maintenance facility
out at Will Rogers, world
airport and when we lost
that I ask my friend Greg Maine
who was running the
Department of Commerce.
And Dawn Heckler [assumed
spelling] here was serving
in Department of Commerce
at that time, I said Greg,
I want the best job
in senate program
in the country will you
be please go find it.
And he did and he put
together all that kind
of the best practices.
And the result was
really remarkable.
US news and world report in
1992 rank Oklahoma’s economic
performance is the
improved in the nation.
And in 1993, we added 17,000
new jobs to the economy.
US news and or the Tulsa
World, again, I’ll quote them,
called it a “business
attraction powerhouse”.
And in the first 11 months
of the quality jobs program,
we did 50 deals that
resulted in 14,500 jobs.
So, it was known throughout
the country immediately
in California we’re recruiting
companies prime Miller
tracking– Don Prime Miller
was in our Rotary Club
and he thanks me every
opportunity for pulling
and dragging him out of
California, and getting them
to Oklahoma and quality
jobs is one
of the reasons that they came.
Number four, we stopped the
spend it and lose it mentality.
Jack– is Jack White
[assumed spelling] in here?
I saw Jack went last night.
But Jack White was our
Secretary of Finance.
And he came and showed
me one day.
Said, governor look at this,
we’ve got spending in all
of the total state
agencies here.
And in June the spending would
just spike up out of incredible.
And I said, what’s that about?
And it was use it or lose it,
you know, if you had money left
over in your agency and you
didn’t spend it, well then,
you are going to probably get a
budget cut the next time around.
And so we went to the– And
so, they were buying furniture
and this that, and the other,
whatever they could do.
So, we got all the
agencies together
and we basically said look, I’m
going to make a deal with you.
If you will save that money,
we’re going to take half
of it back, we’re going to
leave you keep 50% of it.
And you can spend it on anything
you want to spend it on,
so long as it’s legal.
And that improves the efficiency
or the effectiveness
of the agency.
It was remarkable what that
unleashed in these agencies.
They formed task force.
They did all kinds of things.
It was so much fun.
They felt like they
really have authority.
And they went and did
all sorts of things.
Jack, for example, in finances.
We have these– the beginnings
of email systems back then.
And everybody had
a different one
and nobody could
communicate together.
And Jack went out and bought
some sort of bus system
that tied it all
together and all
of a sudden email
use exploded, again,
improving our efficiencies.
And on several occasions we
gathered agencies together just
this matter of management.
And it’s kind of interesting
if you ask me, well,
how can do all the
agencies, all the leaders
of the state agencies get
together for a conference?
Not very often.
So, we borrow the
big forum building
and we put them together and
we would talk about our goals
and objectives and
they would confer
about best practices in it.
It just made a remarkable
difference.
I was a bit of a
detail guy and so–
and not knowing anything
about state agencies and one
of my first actions,
I recommended this
to Governor Stitt.
I sent him a note saying,
here the 10 things I did.
You might try.
I don’t know if he
did this or not.
I did say, to sell
the state airplane.
And did he do that?
I think he may have
sold the state airplane.
>>He did.
>>But anyway, the– I
set through all these line
by line budget hearings which
was just maddening detail.
But with a relatively decent
memory back then I could just
hold my own with all
the legislative leaders
who knew a lot more about
the agencies than I did
and we found lots
and lots of savings.
We intentionally went out
and reduced state
employment by 3,000.
I did remember I would’ve
had a terrible task
of finding 500 million
in savings, 500 million.
State budget was probably
half of what it is today.
That’s a lot of money.
So, we put on a soft
hiring freeze.
It didn’t say, OK, you
can’t hire anymore people
but you just have to come
and talk to us about it.
Let’s make sure that it’s
needed and let’s make sure
that we can do it in
a more efficient way.
We cut jobs for the first time
in the history of the state.
We cut state government
jobs by 3,300 employees.
When you multiply that out
that was $100 million a year.
We got to move $100 million a
year to that education budget
to try to do what I thought
was a much higher priority.
And state government work just
fine, because we had thousands
and tens of thousands of other
employees to pick up this fight.
We created the health–
Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
Garth Splinter, Dr.
Garth Splinter is here.
Garth and I went to the
engineering school together.
We went to– he preceded me
at Harvard Business
School about a year.
You can tell this guy I
never did want to get out.
We got a job because and he went
to Medical School
and became an MD.
And so, we took advantage of the
waivers on Medicaid and they–
and that kind of
create activity coming
out the Clinton administration
at that time.
And we created– Garth created
and run the Oklahoma Healthcare
Authority which existed
to this day and he run
all the Medicaid programs.
And they’re doing a well
of a job given unnecessary
restrictions we put
on by not participating in ACA.
But the Oklahoma Health
Care Authority one
of the things I remember
when we went
to Washington, Garth
was with us.
He had just ramped up this thing
called medical savings accounts.
Now, medical savings
accounts are so common.
It’s kind of hard
to imagine that only
about 27 years ago somebody
thought up the idea.
That guy up there in
the turquoise short–
shirt thought up the idea.
And about six months later,
the great Heritage Foundation
in Washington DC
published after we–
after Garth who published
his work through a grant.
They published their work and
they’re generally credited
with being the first ones come
up with medical savings account.
That came out of the Oklahoma
Health Care Authority,
came out a very creative
thinking of the people
that we had working on that.
And so, the last thing I’ve
mention is that we were driven
to open up state
government to as many people
and make it more diverse
than we saw at that time.
And so, it’s kind of interesting
to think about 27 years ago
that on a cabinet of 12
people that I leaned on
and depended on, we had
four African-Americans
on that cabinet.
And we had four females
serving on the cabinet.
And I end up of 1,700 employ–
appointments to board
agencies and commissions.
The government spent a
lot of time doing that.
But out of the 1,700
we had 20% minority,
34% women which didn’t
sound terrific today,
although I’m guessing that if we
measure today’s appointments you
wouldn’t be doing
any better than that.
But to think about 27 years
ago, we were really convince
about it kind– when we
draw the point home recently
when the governor, our new
governor of state said he wanted
to appoint an African-American
to the OU Board
of Regents and which was needed.
But I recalled back where
on one day I appointed two–
I have two vacancies
on the regents
which he found himself
with two vacancies.
I appointed two
African-Americans to that board.
There had been no
African-American serving
on that.
And that sadly those
were the last people–
the last African-American
to serve on that board.
He fortunately found a great
guy, unfortunately he lives
in Ohio and– but
he appointed him.
I had the privilege of asking
and convincing Ada
Lois Sipuel Fisher
to be one of my appointees.
And it was just one of the
best days in our administration
to stand on the steps
of a law bar
where she had been denied
access 49 years earlier,
was told that she could not
enroll because of her race
as a law student at OU.
She went and found herself
a good lawyer called
Thurgood Marshall.
Thurgood Marshall comes in to
town and helps plea that case
and she got accepted
into the law school.
But 49 years after that incident
for her to be able to stand
on the steps of me and
become a Regent in University
of Oklahoma was quite
an accomplishment.
So, to give you a flavor for
the activity, we failed a lot,
there’s no question about that.
We failed to get
a lottery election
at the time pass through.
Governor Henry got one done.
We failed to put in
place the provider tax
which we were taking to vote
of the people that was going
to boost the rural
healthcare at the time.
We stupidly stopped negotiations
with Texas on the sailed water
that we did literally throw away
into the Red River every year
and it’s a worth a
billion dollars a year.
It’s still one of the
biggest things that we just–
we surpassed simply
because it’s controversial.
There’s no question about that
because people think, oh my god,
we got to have this water.
We put– We flow into the
Red River the equivalent
of 20 New York City
consumption levels every year
that we could pull out of
there, sell to Texas and make
at least a billion dollars
even on a low price.
We didn’t do that and many–
unfortunately, many other
governors after me followed
and made the same mistake.
But we tried out by
having all those mistakes
and all those failures, we
tried many, many new ideas
and many of those worked.
A retrospective
of my administration wouldn’t
be complete without pointing
out that I put the volume of
my negative press coverage
up against all 26 of
the former governors.
It’s not auspicious
award to win.
But, I’m fairly confident
that is the case
and in better publisher of the
local paper simply never got
over my biding their
favorite candidate.
I asked a friend yesterday,
I said I got to talk
about a retrospective
of my administration,
tell me what you
recall the most.
And he said “unfair treatment.”
So, no, no, I can’t talk
about that but it’s–
but, that’s what this
person remembered most
and maybe others
remember the same.
Now, let me be clear,
I’m a big believer
in the freedom of the press.
I thank God that we have it
because I think our
nation now clings to it.
But, it can occasionally
go off the rails
and I think it did in our case.
But, here’s the point.
Even in the face of
enormous opposition,
near continuous false
attacks, hundreds of people
in our state government and
state institutions jumped
and I mean, jumped
at the opportunity
for real change in
public policy.
And they were inspired that
there was a chance finally
to have some real change.
And they threw out
the window there.
Their views about promoting
our political future,
or both straddling the fence
or hiding behind an ideology
that is only going to
protect you on a primary
but they wanted real change
and they worked really hard
to deliver real change
and I think make a
substantial difference.
So, perspective number
two is that real change
in public policy is possible.
Thank you for allowing
me to join you today.
[ Applause ]
>>When Governor Walters walked
in this afternoon, I said,
we’ll have format where
I’ll ask you some questions
and because we’ve had
some instances in the past
where people get up to ask a
question and make a speech.
And he said, no, I want
to hear some questions
from the audience.
So, we’re going to have
a few here, Governor.
And then so, if you have
a question formulating,
be ready because we’re
going to ask for questions
from the audience here
in just few minutes.
Governor, what leadership
qualities does a person need
to have to be governor
of the state?
>>Well. You know, I was–
I supported Drew Edmondson
and I love the fact
that Drew was all over.
He can clearly want to
be campaign for President
of the United States while
he was in the office.
He had tremendous experience.
A wonderful man and
Linda Edmondson is just a
wonderful woman.
And so, I– it broke my
heart when they didn’t win
because I thought that
was a great package for us
to follow a period of time
in which I thought ideology
had become to ride him off
and we were cutting things
we didn’t need to cut.
We were starving essential
services, et cetera.
But on the other hand,
you look at Governor Stitt
and you got a guy as
I said he’s young.
He’s 45. Although we like
them young in Oklahoma
because he only ranks 9th
on the youngest category
of 45 while was I
was elected 39.
And I’m only 4th, you know.
There’s three younger than me,
Howard Edmondson and David Boren
and George and I
was first selected.
And so, so I think
there’s value in both.
I think the thing that concerns
me as I watch this first round
of public policy, is
— well, first of all,
you take constitutional carry.
Constitutional carry of
weapons, I see the sign
out on the door saying please,
leave your guns out here
on the rack or whatever.
But, I tweeted something back
to the governor that said,
could we compromise on
constitutional carry and all
of us just carry a
constitution instead of–
I mean if this was
November 1 or later,
I could be scrapping my AR15
which I do well, you know,
I don’t have a lot of guns.
I’m a little farm
boy but, it’s a shame
if that becomes kind
of a watch word.
So, the litmus test in my view,
it will be whether they’re
compassionate enough
and understanding enough and
I know they’re smart enough
to get Medicaid expansion
for example
which is a billion
dollar infusion
in our healthcare economy that
virtually cost us nothing.
And the excuses for not doing
it are just nonsensical.
Well they might take it away.
Well they might take
away highway funding.
They might take away anything?
And so, I just think
you’ve got–
in there has to be
compassion and passion
to do the right thing, to
do it for the right purpose.
People respond.
Well I saw those people
respond to real change
and if somebody speaks
from their heart and speaks
to both sides and is
compassionate about it,
I think you can affect the
real public policy change.
I like one candidate.
I now have a governor that is
different, but in many ways,
similar to what I brought
into office as well.
And so, I have hope that
he’ll do the right thing.
>>During your term as governor,
you led the overseas
trade delegations.
Could you comment
on the importance
of international
trade of Oklahoma?
>>Well, it’s a very important
because of the agriculture,
because of our aerospace
industry that we have here
and new industries yet known.
I’m in the international
business and it would be great
if we had a delegation once
in a while to other countries
to allow small companies
like mine to suggest
that we could provide
some assistance to them.
So, I just found and Dawn
knows as well from his days
in the Department of
Commerce, what you don’t want
to do is get your– not
your buddies together
but you get your senior staff
together and fly off to France.
We probably did that
once or twice.
But, the point of it is when we
went to Mexico, the Department
of Commerce worked
incredibly hard to make sure
that any business
that went with us
and we took about 90 companies.
That first big delegation
we just–
we almost killed the
folks in commerce.
We– By broadcasting
anybody who wanted to go.
We found 90 companies.
We made sure that everyone
of those companies
had three meanings
with three potential
business partners in Mexico.
And what came out of
it was extraordinary.
The governor who followed me
took his secretary of commerce
and they went down there
together to see business.
And I did– I didn’t have
a building, you know.
We’re not doing deals and
adding multi-companies.
The companies have to
go business to business.
And so, that was– if it’s
done in the right way,
you can be very productive.
And we set a big record in
terms of the amount of contacts.
We also, frankly,
because California
at that time was
really struggling
with regulatory burdens and
high taxes and the rest, and so,
we open an office in California
much to the shared grant
of the state press there.
We got some heat in their
press which is fine.
But, we began recruiting
companies out of California.
And so, the “Doggy Dogg World”
I was the Governor of Oklahoma.
And so, I was going
to do everything I
could to support that.
So, I called the California
office our most productive
foreign office and–
but, it was–
it’s very helpful
to what we do, yeah.
>>In your administration
and until today,
there are always no requests for
funding than there are funds.
How did you go
about prioritizing
the funding proposals
that you would submit
in the legislature?
>>Well. At the level
of the executive branch,
you should have a kind
of a general sense
as to what your overall
priorities are.
But, you’re absolutely
right, Mr. President.
The– You don’t get
request to do bad things.
That’s pretty odd
and pretty unusual.
Everything is request
to do good things.
And so, it’s a gradation
between, you know,
really good things and
moderately good things
and things that are productive.
What’s going to have
a lasting impact?
What’s within the mission
of state government
and not outside of it, you know.
We, the State of
Oklahoma essentially owns
power companies.
They own industrial parks.
They own lot of things that
are really outside of the focus
of what a state government
services should be.
And so, we tried to stay
focus on basically education,
healthcare and infrastructure.
And we if we could in four years
make some difference there,
then we try to drive
things to that.
It’s like the painful effect
of reducing employment
by 3,000 employees, now
there’s 135,000 employees
in state government
at that time including
educational institutions.
But by reducing it 3,000
and generating a $100
million annually, it was–
that made a big difference,
and it was painful–
but it was painful to do to
sit with agencies and turn
down requests for additional
hiring somebody else tended
to do that but we were– we
would catch the brunt of that.
And so, it’s to draw, draw
a picture, draw a concept,
the current governor says,
we’re going to be in the top 10.
We’re all being very
explicit about what that is
but at least it’s
a guiding goal.
I mean it’s a big, you know, I–
the test people who say they
want to run the government
like a business because
it is not a business.
But it’s a big organization
and it’s complicated.
And so, it needs the goals
to be set at a high level
and then the subdecisions down
below have to be consistent.
And in that way you’ll drive
and make some progress,
and in a short period of time
when a lot of impediments,
do see what happened during
those years in education
and healthcare with healthcare
authority and infrastructure
with the bond issue and all
the rest, it made a difference
and I’m proud of that.
>>This is a question that
might be on the minds of some
of our younger people
in the audience today.
Was it ever fun, just fun
being governor and if so, how?
>>It probably was, it
was we had, you know,
personal family tragedy
during that period of time,
in part driven by the
intense opposition
to our administration.
And so, it’s hard to think
about anything being
fun in that light.
But equally you couldn’t
deny being proud
and savoring the moment
of say appointing Ada Lois
Sipuel Fisher to the state,
to the OU Regents at the
time and seeing that circle
of history being completed.
And, of course, there were
great times of, you know,
I decided I was going to
take my cabinet and go meet
in small towns and
that once every–
I said once a month but I think
we try to do it every quarter,
and so we’d pick up
our entire cabinet,
we’d all go to [inaudible]
or some place.
We’d take over the
school auditorium
and the townspeople
would come in
and pack the auditorium
or the gymnasium.
And we would do a little bit
of a show cabinet meeting
where down the line
they go and everybody,
Department of Transportation
would talk and Human Services
and various agencies
would make–
or cabinet officers would
talk about what they do.
But the interesting
thing about that is
that in the afternoon we would
break up and then the Department
of Human Services
people would go look
at the county DHS offices, meet
with those local officials,
have some conversations,
understand their problems.
Transportation would do the
same thing, they’d go look
at bad bridges, bad
highways et cetera,
and we would come together
at the end of the day.
It was a lot of work.
But boy did that touch
not only the hearts of
but it brought the government
down to a scale that folks
in small towns really
appreciated them
and we always have
fun on those trips.
We would get lost, you know,
somebody would fall
off the stage OK.
It wasn’t funny, but
it was Delmas Ford.
It was kind of funny.
But– So we always
amuse ourselves there.
I will say that the first
one of those that we did,
the president mentioned I
carried 75 of the 77 counties
and the first one of those
events I scheduled up in Guymon
in the Panhandle, the two
counties I didn’t carry was
in the Panhandle.
And the rumor was I was
coming up to announce
that I was giving them back
to Texas, you know, there–
there were just the
surveyor’s error anyway.
And so, I should have
scheduled the first one,
we had a great trip to
Guymon and laughed all
about that, a little fun.
>>And my last question before
we give the audience the
opportunity to ask questions,
is there an accomplishment
that you had as governor
that you feel even today was
under appreciated at the
time, or one specifically
that you could point out?
>>I like the idea of
the– I had promised that–
we had the worst fleet
of highway patrol
cars you’ve ever seen.
They were being starved
for money and they all had,
you know, a 200,000 miles on
them, it was just terrible.
And so we– David McBride
was my secretary of security
and we pledge that we are
going to replace, we are going
to buy all new cars
in that fleet
and properly equip our
highway patrol officers.
And we were down, we
were cutting all kinds
of corners here and they’re
trying to find that money.
Remember, I’m still looking
for $500 million which we found
but we’re looking for that
money and I decided, you know,
that the governor
had the King Air
and a big old prop job it wasn’t
a jet but it was a nice plane.
And there was a little staff out
at the Wiley Post standing ready
if anybody had needed
to fly off somewhere.
And I thought that looks to
me like a big waste of money
and I thought– but I enjoyed
that King Air, who wouldn’t.
I found, however, I
could lease a helicopter
and get there a lot
faster and while we had
to repaint a few
cars once in a while,
when we had loose gravel
in the parking lot.
It got us there a lot
faster and did the job.
So I sold that state airplane
in order to put the final amount
of money on buying
highway patrol cars,
this isn’t significant
but it was–
and the paper refused to
run a single story about it.
And so, it was really
kind of funny that I was
out there, you know, bolting.
We had a press event and I’m
out there bolting the last light
on a new car or something
to or a press event
and there were no
press, so anyway.
There are probably I think
the long lasting impact
of the Oklahoma Healthcare
Authority
and what it did initially
out of the gates
to really make a difference in
terms of how Medicaid funding
which is a huge amount
of funding in Oklahoma
to make a difference in how
that was applied and utilized
and to stretch their
limited resources.
I know I– because
the current ideology,
the current administrations
had been looking for ways
to privatize that out when
they are the most efficient
in the nation in terms
of administering
these Medicaid funds.
And if you privatize it, you’re
just going to lose 10 or 15%
or whatever the private fee is
going to be out of those moneys.
So, the healthcare authority
may be the most underappreciated
thing but that– and that
is a great significance.
>>OK audience, if you
would– if you have a question,
you want to stand up and
Chuck Riley here will give you
a microphone.
>>What does the state look
like that values education?
>>What does the state look
like that values education?
Well, you know, I’ve
laughed before
that if I had the opportunity
to reset the three priorities.
It would be education,
education, education,
because fundamentally
making sure
that people have open access
to affordable high-quality
education is what would drive
everything else in the
state even your demand
for human services, your
demand for corrections,
your demand for public security,
all of that is mitigated
if you got really
fine education.
And what comes with that
at the higher levels
of education was research and
grant programs and the rest.
And what that, you know,
the multiplier effect
on a federal grant at the
OU Health Sciences Center is
at least 25 to 1 or so.
You know those grant moneys come
in and they follow good faculty
and good faculty follow
good opportunities is
just remarkable.
So it drives everything.
And the idea that
somehow we had decided
that public education
particularly,
is a place where we
can go save money
or we could just let it languish
at the minimum is
really unfortunate.
Now that, thanks to our
public school teachers
and their supporters falling
out last year and marching
around the capital, it
was an inspiration to see
and driving a very
ideologically bound legislature
to finally do something, but
only for teacher salaries
and not for the overall.
We still have four
days school weeks.
We still have a lot
of very poorly funded
educational program.
So I hope that changes if you’re
smart and if you’re a governor,
and if you run a
business, you should be able
to recognize the
multiplier effect of that.
And so, I know they’re
planning on some increase
in education fortunately our
economy turned around a bit.
But you know this disaster,
this catastrophe that we had
in funding state education was
not related to any economic
down turn, very small
percentage of our decline
in revenues associated with
that, it was cuts and taxes.
It was cuts and taxes that
benefited the higher end
of income scales
and dare I say–
I’m sorry to say to Jerry here.
But it benefited the
oil and gas companies.
And we’re doing just
fine, thank you.
I mean they– and you can
track, you can track their lies,
they’re not struggling for
money and yet we’re the lowest
in the region and there’s
lots of ways to play tricks
with statistics but we
don’t charge a property tax
on reserves, and a
lot of states do.
So, you’ll hear a different
gross production tax
in other state but
that is much lower
but they were also
paying property taxes.
And so, there’s a lot of
ways to confuse the public.
But we cut a billion dollars out
of state government and tax cuts
and at the same time we had a
billion dollar short bill each
and every year.
And that will climb back
but way too slower so.
>>Governor thanks for being
here I have two questions
for you and that one
is, do you recall
with the Cherokee nation
[inaudible] because all
of a sudden Oklahoma,
so that’s the first one,
and did you expect more
and in your opinion is
that the picture [inaudible]?
Thank you.
>>You know I remember
going to conferences,
I’ve been in the electric
generation business and most
of my work has been
international,
so we have done a
lot of domestic work
but the Cherokees had this old
abandoned school Chilocco Indian
School up in Kay County.
And they asked for my help
to see if we could stir
up some activity, so we wind up,
there was a German based
developer then on and on
that goes but about a
200-megawatt power plant.
And certainly not the first,
there are great wind farms
all around the state.
But if you drill down in
Oklahoma, if you drill
down on renewable generation,
we do a lot to dissuade it.
So our incentive program is
always under attack in Oklahoma
and it pales to what they pay
in Texas for wind generation.
Now I sat there,
there’s a TV in my office
that has the pricing
structure for Texas
on the screen all day long
because we have a little plant
down there that fires
off in peak periods.
And so, I get to
watch a lot of things
that are happening weird
stuff, graphs here and there.
And so, I walk over
there once in a while
and pop up what’s going on.
And I’ll check what
they’re actually producing.
Peter was great, you can
see everything in real time,
the actual wind generation
going on right at that moment
and the frequent might
be a little zip or zag
and it will affect
pricing, et cetera.
But they have 20,000 megawatts.
Our total load in Oklahoma is
probably what, 28,000 or 28–
they’ve got nearly 20,000
megawatts that on a good day,
on a good steady wind
that is contributing
to their load of about 70,000.
Now, no one would
have ever anticipated
that wind generation
would be doing that much.
And do you know what you
can buy wind generation
in Oklahoma for right now?
Because the utilities are still
kind of skeptical about it,
they’ve still got
their coal plants.
They’re still buying
Wyoming coals
and shoving it into
these plants.
And so, if I go into,
I won’t name names,
but if I go to any
prominent utility
and say I’ve got 20
years of wind generation
that I can sell you for
1 cent per kilowatt hour
of your paying 7
cents, 8 cents, 6 cents,
maybe if you’re a big
company you’re paying 5
which is a whole
argument in itself.
But 7 or 8 cents, I can sell
you powerful 1 cent per kilowatt
hour, fixed for 20 years.
Never increases, 1 cent.
You can go buy the power
out of Chilocco Indian
Wind Farm right now today
for that amount of money.
Our regulation unique
to Oklahoma,
we have last small
monopoly, so you can’t–
I can’t get it to the Hard Rock
Casino substation unless the
Hard Rock Casino substation in
Tulsa has their own substation,
their own connection and
lots of money and lots
of complexities there.
But the system is
beginning to change here,
but we’re in something called
the Southwest Power Pool
and it’s been run as kind
of an anti-renewable thing
for many, many years.
And IRCA which is unique to
Texas has been very aggressive
about renewables and
generation, solar is all
over the place found there.
We’re just now thinking
about solar,
the legislature passed a bill
that basically makes
it uneconomic
to put rooftop solar
on your house.
We’re the only state– or did
you see that article recently
where we’re the– we cut and
paste more legislation from kind
of the think tanks, the
conservative think tanks.
Well that was a piece
of legislation.
We were the only ones to pass
that piece of legislation.
Fortunately, the Corporation
Commissions has been really slow
about implementing it.
But you pay a fee
for the electricity
that you’re not using if you
have rooftop solar unique
in Oklahoma to any other
state in the nation.
So it is a wonderful
thing, it is the future.
We won’t be burning
coal forever.
And it’s a great
supplement to generation,
but it needs more support
from the public policy
leaders in Oklahoma here.
>>Is there one more question?
>>I’ll be a lot
briefer in the answer,
so let’s– we’ll do that.
>>Were you fine
that the district
or the [inaudible]
going to see [inaudible]
but then would be aided
for the most part?
>>Yeah. Well, the hated part,
I was kind of joking about.
But more related to
tribalism, you know,
it’s a really good question.
I’m small town guy, you know.
I went to a public
school out there.
I was the only graduate in
my class to go to college,
the only male graduate.
And so, I would say, I was an
introvert coming out of Caddo,
Oklahoma into the
University of Oklahoma,
but I must have quickly
become an extrovert.
One of the things I discovered
is I didn’t have articulation
skills very much.
And so, I read a lot and
I kind of force myself
into those opportunities
where I’d have to speak
or to write clearly and plainly.
And I can’t tell you how
important that is in terms
of just the ability
to communicate.
And, you know, we’re
all in Twitter today
and we’re now going to
have to use the acronyms
and cutting everything short
and I worry that the ability
to write a really strong
white paper, for example,
that’s logical and clear
and easy to understand
that we might lose that.
But I quickly became an
extrovert apparently.
Yes.
>>Actually, you have
one more question.
>>Yeah, so you’ve talked today
[inaudible] the social diversity
in the Regent and your sense of
[inaudible] anyway with respect
with [inaudible] by trying
recently the Oklahoma
[inaudible] are randomized
with kids with the [inaudible]
and you will go to the services
to come out in [inaudible]
against that, what should
Oklahoma would be right now
to the benefits of [inaudible]
and end the conversation
of the [inaudible]?
>>Well, that was a quite a day.
You know, I get a call
early in the morning.
My wife actually runs a
real estate operation.
And so, she got the call
and walked in, and said,
“Look at this picture.
The maintenance person
just sends us pictures.”
It was just– It
was horrific stuff,
stuff that media
had to blur out.
It’s so bad.
And we were just
shocked about it.
So we go down there.
And that they started out
with such a shock at the level
of hate and that exists in our
society, and yet by the end
of a day, you know,
I had calls from–
I immediately got a call from
the local Islamic society
and he said, “Hey I’ve
got– I get to spray–
I get to Peri-Wash a
lot of that stuff off.
I’ve got a Peri-Washer
and I’m on my way
over to give you a hand.
And actually, he called the
rabbi, one of the rabbi’s
in town, and the rabbi
called me and said,
would it be all right
for him to come over.
And I went over and met them.
And so, I had two rabbis.
I had the imam from the
local Islamic society.
We had the NAACP.
We were immediately calling
crews to come in and clean it.
Didn’t need to.
There were 30, 40, 50 volunteers
out there on their hands
and knees, steel brushes,
soap, all kinds of detergents,
scrubbing all of that
hate language off.
And then as, you know, or
if you follow that story,
it popped up over at
Chickasha headquarters,
and then there was
this attack in Normal
and thankfully the person
who did that was arrested.
It was– It’s a big country.
It’s a big state.
And, you know, you’re going to
have people that aren’t balanced
and you’re going to have
people that are driven by hate
for people that aren’t
like themselves.
And so, it’s unavoidable.
But the important thing
is how we come together
in those kinds of incidents.
And I couldn’t have been more
impressed and more inspired
by what I saw that day.
So thank you very much.
>>Let’s say thank you together.
[Applause]
>>Thank you, thank you.
[ Applause ]
>>A number of guests today are
from the Pathway School
that’s located on our campus.
So, I hope that– I hope–
First of all, welcome,
a special welcome to you.
And I hope that you
listened carefully
to what Governor Walters
said, when he said,
when somebody comes to you
and asked for your vote,
ask them why they’re running.
Now, Governor Walters ran
whether you agreed with everyone
of his proposals or not,
Governor Walters ran
because he wanted
to do something
for the State of Oklahoma.
He wanted to help the people
in the State of Oklahoma.
And some people that you see
running and running really
for an ego trip or
for the publicity.
So I hope that you paid special
attention to Governor Walters
when he said to you today that
when somebody ask for your vote,
ask them why they
want the office
for which they’re running.
We are about ready to
adjourn this meeting.
I invite all of our guests today
to please enjoy the
refreshments.
I know that you Pathway
students will
because I’ve seen
you in the past.
So– And it’s– the
refreshments are here for you
as well as the other guests.
Thank you again for coming.
I hope you found Governor
Walters’ remarks as inspiring
and informational as I have.
We’re adjourned.
[Applause].
>>Thank you.
Well done.
Good job.
>>Thank you.
>>Thank you.
>>You’re welcome.
>>Yeah, good to see you.

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