News 9 Poll: Oklahomans Concerned About Education

Wednesday, October 12th 2016, 8:01 pm
By: News 9

On November 8, Oklahomans will consider State Question 779.

It asks voters to increase the state sales tax one cent to help pay for public education.

That includes pay raises for teachers and money to recruit more of them.

Our scientific survey shows 63 percent of likely voters strongly or somewhat support the tax, while 33 percent strongly or somewhat oppose it.

Only 4 percent are undecided or don't know.

The main goal of a dedicated statewide penny sales tax that would bring in more than $600 million dollars a year, which would equal out to $5,000 raises for every public school teacher in Oklahoma. 

Seventy percent is earmarked for common education, almost all of that for the raises and to recruit  teachers.

Higher education would get just under 20 percent of that. 

And 10 percent split between career technology and early childhood education. 

Supporters said 779 is now the only option.

"We've been waiting for politicians to do something about it and now it's up to us to actually be able to do something to address this education funding crisis," said Martin Ramirez with Stand For Children Oklahoma. 

While the non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute is not opposing 779, it's also not endorsing it.

Policy Director Gene Perry pointing out the poor are hit hardest. 

"It takes the most away from the lowest income folks and cities are so reliant on the sales tax," Perry said. 

But Ramirez has a different view.

"Giving students a properly funded education helps elevate families out of poverty and into the middle class," Ramirez said. 

Right now, Oklahoma is the sixth highest in the nation when it comes to combined sales taxes.  

But if 779 passes, that would shoot the state to the top of the list in the nation when it comes to sales taxes.

"The statewide average would go up to the highest in the nation combined state and local sales tax rate," Perry said. 

On the other hand, if the tax is defeated Oklahoma becomes dead last in the nation in teacher pay. 

"We used to say thank God for Mississippi, now Mississippi is going to be saying thank God for Oklahoma," Ramirez said.

The News 9 will release poll numbers on State Question 777 on Thursday.  It's the so-called "Right To Farm" question.