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Fallin Talks Trump, Revenue Shortfall, And Staff Changes During Capitol Press Conference

Gov. Mary Fallin announces new cabinet appointments with Mike Hunter, Jennifer Chance, and Chris Benge during a news conference Monday.
Kate Carlton Greer
Gov. Mary Fallin announces new cabinet appointments with Mike Hunter, Jennifer Chance, and Chris Benge during a news conference Monday.

Gov. Mary Fallin says she'll still vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump even after his 2005 comments that came to light Friday. In a press conference Monday, Fallin said she believes Trump's “vision for America” is better than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s.

“Certainly I was offended by Donald Trump's remarks about women, as any woman would be. But he has apologized. I accept his apology,” Fallin said. “Those comments were made over 11 years ago, and in the end, what I'm looking at is the platform, the position, that presidential candidates are running on.”

Fallin said both presidential candidates are flawed and have made mistakes, but Fallin is hopeful Trump can get the economy "back on track" and reform the tax code.

During the press conference, Fallin also warned state agencies need to be prepared for more budget cuts this year. While oil revenue isn’t as low as it has been, Fallin said the two-year energy downturn continues to affect the state budget.

“I think we will experience another shortfall this year in our budget because if you look at the past revenue collections, I think it's 19 months now, of shortfalls in our revenue projections versus collections,” the governor said.

Fallin said she plans to prioritize state spending. She also said she believes the economy will rebound after November’s election.

“There’s no doubt that the American people are very anxious about the presidential election, and that’s not helpful to anyone’s economy, whether it’s the nation’s economy, or whether it’s our state’s economy, Fallin said.

Fallin also announced Secretary of State Chris Benge would take over as her Chief of Staff effective November 1, and Fallin’s current chief of staff Denise Northrup will move to chief operations officer at the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. First Assistant Attorney General Mike Hunter will become the Secretary of State and special counsel to the governor.

“I’m not shaking up my staff, I’m refreshing my team,” Fallin said.

Benge served as Oklahoma’s House Speaker from 2008 until he was term-limited in 2011. Hunter served in the House from 1985 until 1991, and Fallin said both former lawmakers will be effective working with the Legislature, The Oklahoman’s Rick Green reports:

Fallin said she wants to see a variety of issues tackled, including navigating through the state's economic difficulties. Oklahoma has been in recession for more than a year, but Fallin says there appears to be a glimmer of hope now that the price of oil has topped $50 per barrel.

Fallin said OMES Director Preston Doerflinger will be able to use Northrup's help as his agency works on improving government efficiency and prioritizing spending.

Doerflinger is losing John Estus, who has been his aide and spokesman.

Estus is going to work for an advertising and public relations firm.

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Kate Carlton Greer was a general assignment reporter for KGOU and Oklahoma Public Media Exchange.
Kate Carlton Greer
Kate Carlton Greer is a general assignment reporter for KGOU. She previously covered Oklahoma's efforts in tornado response and recovery as part of KGOU's "Ahead of the Storm: The Oklahoma Tornado Project." Kate also served as the Community Calendar Producer from January to August in 2013. She grew up in Flower Mound, Texas, and studied broadcasting and electronic media at the University of Oklahoma.
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