Oklahoma City councilman Ed Shadid hand-delivered a 16,000 signature strong petition to the Oklahoma City clerk this afternoon. The group is asking to put teacher pay back on the ballot but this time, at a local level.
You might remember State Ballot Question 779. It asked for a statewide, permanent penny sales tax and failed last year. This go around, Oklahoma City residents gathered enough signatures to request a new city ballot. This measure would add a half percent, temporary income tax on the adjusted income of those living only in Oklahoma City. This tax innovation has not been previously used in Oklahoma according to Shadid, who adds every other state in America has previously used this method as a source of income.
"A unique experiment that Oklahoma City has done is the temporary tax,” says councilman Shadid, "where we go to voters, we ask, we try something for a few years and see how it works out."
The city clerk will spend the next 10 days validating those signatures, and once the petition goes to the mayor and city council, it could appear on the next ballot as early as April 3.
The funding would serve 20 districts in Oklahoma City, with the largest chunk going to OKC Public Schools. Because of that, it’s not clear at this time how much would go to each individual teacher or support staff member as a raise, according to Shadid. Though, the councilman says, none of this money will go to administrators.
"You have record amounts of emergency certifications," he says. "You have teachers leaving Oklahoma City schools for surrounding states."
He continues, this gives the power to the people of Oklahoma City to decide if they want to give educators a raise, and by opening this new type of local tax, other schools in the state also have the chance to give their teachers a raise.
They simply have to get the signatures first.
Shadid says so far, he has not been met with opposition but plans on releasing more on this petition at a later date.