SQ 779- State attempt to bandage a broken leg

Rachel Brown

Oklahoma’s budget deficit has caused tremendous cuts to public education- in fact Oklahoma leads that U.S. in cuts to education. According to Oklahoma Policy Institute, Oklahoma has cut over 20 percent of spending per student in the past six years.

This state crisis led David Boren, University of Oklahoma President, to propose State Question 779. The proposal would increase the sales tax one cent per dollar mainly to supply a $5,000 pay raise to teachers. The rest of the money would be allotted to higher education and early childhood education.

While teacher salary increases are desperately needed, the current situation of public education flashes warning signs for the future.

In 2003, two state questions were passed allotting money generated from the Oklahoma Lottery to fund public education. This bill, however, was used to deceive Oklahomans.

Each year, cuts are made to education so that the lottery has become less and less supplementary to state funds. A fear of similar behavior with the penny sales tax is a big problem with the bill.

The tax will appear to bring in money for education; however, the money will be designated. Then, when legislators cut to education it will not seem as bad. The major issue is that the money designated for teacher salary cannot pay for the bills to operate the schools, nor give schools the ability to hire more teachers.

The state legislators have done it before and they will do it again. Sure, we love our teachers, but this proposal is not the way to thank them for hours of hard work. Voting “Yes” on SQ 779 would allow the state to put a Band-Aid on a broken leg-it will do nothing good for the state. Voting “No” would force our legislators to figure out a better way to funding education.