OKLAHOMA CITY —
He won a close race for House speaker with the help of the Republican caucus’ right wing, and he has staked out several conservative positions that occasionally rankle GOP leaders in the state Senate and governor’s office.
Shannon has consistently opposed any effort for a bond issue to pay for state infrastructure improvements, and he has pushed for deeper cuts to the state’s income tax, despite projections that the state will have about $170 million less to spend next year. He also is pushing to make permanent a generous tax subsidy to the oil and gas industry that is costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
“If we’re serious about addressing the needs of state government, we need to be serious about growing our economy, and raising taxes is not the way to do that,” Shannon told the AP in an interview earlier this month. “You do that by allowing people and businesses to keep more of the money they earn. When they do, they either spend it or invest it, and that’s how you grow your state, not by raising taxes.”
Shannon also targeted several of the state’s welfare programs last year, pushing one bill that would require some food stamp recipients to perform at least 20 hours of “work activities” each week and another to divert federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families funds to create a public service campaign promoting marriage.
Shannon, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Cameron University and a law degree from Oklahoma City University, has jokingly described himself as a “recovering attorney” who currently works as a public relations and human resources consultant. He previously worked as chief administrative officer for Chickasaw Nation Industries.