Rick Hardesty, a Republican candidate for Senate District 37, spoke at the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at Tulsa Technology Center Monday morning in Sand Springs.
The following is a transcript of his opening remarks. Candidates were given a five-minute time limit, followed by a question and answer session.
"What I'm hearing is, we need to get our schools better funding. We need to get more money into our education system. To me that makes sense as a small business owner in needing to have a viable workforce and things like that...The reason I started running, the main reason, was I sat and watched...and they have practically closed every school over there and it kind of got me angry.
Normally I'm not that politically involved, but after seeing all this going on I decided that our legislators that we currently have in Oklahoma City aren't really doing the job that they're supposed to be doing. That's looking out for the best interests of our state, not just a few corporate entities.
The reason I think I can do a fairly good job over there is that I also do real estate, and in real estate we negotiate stuff every day. That's what real estate is. If I take a contract with a customer to sell their house or sell their business, I'm gonna get them the exact highest price we can get. And vice-versa. If I'm working with a buyer, I'm going to get them a property as cheap as I can. So every day, we're negotiating and I'm good at it.
It's gonna take the citizens in the community to get together with public forums and let them know exactly how you feel.
We have over 75 different business tax incentives in Oklahoma in the name of promoting new business. They're not working. Very few of them give us a return on our investment and that's by their own studies. We have a tax incentive commission and they randomly pick different ones. And of the last report they did, ten out of the eleven that they did had a negative impact on our state. The businesses that are taking advantage of the tax incentives are the larger corporate people who are trying to hit a home run.
I think that we had the opportunity to get our horizontal well drilling credit back to 7% and we missed out on it. In Oklahoma they've been paying 1%. Now it's 2%, which is far below the national average. If they go to Texas they're going to pay 11-13%. If they go to North Dakota they're going to pay 13%. In Oklahoma they pay 2%. I think it's time to do away with that. That was set up in times for if oil prices dropped below $15 per barrel. That's costing us hundreds of millions of dollars a year that could go toward other things.
In all the surveys that are taken to attract businesses into Oklahoma, good education system was the number one answer to attract corporations and companies to start businesses in Oklahoma. It's not tax incentives. We need to get our priorities straight, put money back where it matters. That's my goal."