U.S. Congressman Jim Bridenstine, 1st District Oklahoma, opened the Keating Center dedication chapel with the following speech, honoring former Governor Keating’s service to Oklahoma.
“It is an honor to be with you today as we come together to dedicate the Keating Center for Capitalism, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Liberty. Thank you Dr. Piper for inviting me to be a part of such a momentous day for Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
It is not too often that we celebrate politicians for their contributions to capitalism and free enterprise. You see, politicians have a bad habit of feeling as if they need to intervene in free markets. As a newly elected member of Congress, I see this everyday in Washington, D.C. Political organizations, federal bureaucracies and even members of Congress themselves constantly pushing for new regulations and legislation they believe will stimulate economic growth. Almost always, these attempts result in unintended consequences that do just the opposite. Rarely, do you find a public servant who resists the pressures for intervention in favor of freedom. Governor Keating is just such a public servant.
The Keating Center for Capitalism, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Liberty could not have been named after a stronger political advocate for the free market from our state. Governor Keating’s political career was filled with accomplishments that were aimed at preserving the very principles that this center now aims to foster. Capitalism is built on a foundation of low taxes, low regulation and limited government intervention. In 1998, Governor Keating became the first governor in 50 years to achieve a tax cut in the state’s income tax. He combined this cut with additional reductions in the sales tax, estate tax and unemployment tax to form the largest tax cut in Oklahoma state history up to that point. This bold step on Gov. Keating’s part resulted in the creation of over 130,000 new jobs in Oklahoma.
Governor Keating also understood the importance of freedom in the labor market to our state’s economic growth. Throughout his two terms he fought to make Oklahoma a right-to-work state. He knew that college graduates, like many of you soon will be, along with others in our state searching for employment, should not be forced to join a labor union against their will. He understood the benefits of being a right-to-work state and how achieving that status would result in greater private sector employment growth, lower poverty rates, and higher personal incomes.
In 2001, Governor Keating’s vision became a reality as Oklahomans approved a measure to officially become a right‐to‐work state. Governor Keating has also long been known as a strong and outspoken supporter of our Constitution. He took yet another bold step during his time in office when he signed term limits into law in the state of Oklahoma. Can you imagine? A politician actually signing a law to limit how long they can be in power? You see, just as politicians feel pressure at times to intervene in free-markets, they often find themselves feeling pressure to compromise our constitutional liberties in an effort to stay in power. Governor Keating knew that our state would be stronger if our public servants had the freedom to make decisions that were in the best interest of our state, rather than their re‐elections.
These are just a few of the many examples in Governor Keating’s career where he earned the right to have such a phenomenal facility named in his honor. Our state is stronger and our futures are brighter because of his steadfast commitment to capitalism, free‐enterprise and Constitutional liberty. Thank you Governor Keating.”