Sunday, October 08, 2006

For Meacham
By World's Editorial Writers

Banker-lawyer has right credentials

In the two positions he has held in Gov. Brad Henry's administration, Scott Meacham has proven himself to be a hardworking, intelligent and capable public servant. He deserves election to the office of state treasurer on Nov. 7.

The 43-year-old Democrat holds a bachelor's degree in finance, a Master of Business Administration and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma.

A fifth-generation Oklahoman, Meacham, a certified financial planner, was chief executive officer of First National Bank & Trust of Elk City when Henry tapped him to become director of state finance.

While serving as the bank's CEO, the institution more than doubled in size and profits increased by more than 150 percent.

When former State Treasurer Robert Butkin resigned that post to become dean of the University of Tulsa College of Law, Henry asked Meacham to become state treasurer. He assumed that post on June 1, 2005.

In a little more than a year on that job, Meacham took steps to double state investment earnings, from about $47.7 million in fiscal 2005 to more than $98 million in fiscal '06. One strategy he adopted for increasing earnings was to move about $1 billion held in

checking accounts into safe, higher-yielding investments.

While serving as director of state finance, Meacham was the governor's chief negotiator and policy adviser. In those roles he helped draft the state budget four years in a row, assisting in the development of unprecedented tax cuts and major initiatives in education and health care.

Meacham also oversees investing Oklahoma's share of the national tobacco settlement, and in that capacity has helped save the state more than $3 million in investment services.

Meacham also took the lead in pursuing changes to the Oklahoma College Savings Plan that will enable Oklahoma families to qualify for state income tax deductions.

Meacham's greatest challenge was negotiating new agreements with Indian tribes over gaming and tobacco sales. While his detractors might blame him for problems that developed after a few of the compacts were signed, the fact remains that more revenue is flowing into state coffers as a result of the new gaming and tobacco agreements.

Meacham and his wife Susan have four children and live in Edmond.

He faces Republican Tulsa businessman Howard Barnett, who served in Gov. Frank Keating's administration, in the general election.

Barnett has a business background and considerable experience as a banker and publisher to his credit, but in this case, Meacham has the edge. He should be elected Oklahoma state treasurer.

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