Will Superintendent Hofmeister's Indictment Impact Penny Sales Tax Vote?

Friday, November 4th 2016, 5:46 pm

One of the questions that News 9 had with indictment of Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is what, if any impact would it have on Tuesday’s vote to raise the sales tax to help fund teacher raises. 

State Question 779 would add a penny to the state sales tax. A portion of the money raised would be used to give teachers at least a $5,000 raise above what they make now.  And while Superintendent Hofmeister legally can’t publicly weigh in on the measure, she is the face of public education in Oklahoma.

“With less than four days before election day, the State Question 779 campaign is fully focused on making sure we keep Oklahoma from becoming dead last in what we spend to educate our children and what we pay our teachers. Politicians have failed Oklahomans for far too long and now it’s up to voters to take matters into their own hands by passing SQ 779, a constitutionally protected education funding measure where every single penny will be tracked and audited every single year so voters can trust the funding reaches classrooms and helps students,” said Ward Curtin, Spokesperson, Yes for 779.

Right now polls, including a recent News9/Sooner Poll, show Oklahomans back the one-cent sales tax.

"We've had it as high as 63 (Percent) and as low as 60 (Percent),” said Sooner Poll Director Bill Shapard. “So it really hasn't moved all that much. Oklahomans views on 779 is that it's about teacher pay and that is something that they think needs to happen."

That said, Shapard said state questions can be confusing and polling for them can be difficult because people’s minds change so quickly.

"Any of the state question polling that we've done up to this point I would say is circumspect because it could change overnight.” Shapard said, “Anything can easily influence it.  Can this recent indictment of our school superintendent affect these numbers?  Of course it can."

Shapard believes most voters will be able to distinguish between higher teacher pay and the charges Hofmeister faces. Still, he said, "We've seen a lot of crazy things in politics this year. That might be another crazy thing that we see as well."


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