Educate Oklahoma: Breaking Down State Question 779

Wednesday, August 31st 2016, 6:38 pm
By: News 9

If the sales tax passes in November, $427.4 million will be raised each year.

About $369 million of that would go to teacher salaries, retention and recruitment.

The rest will fund student recruitment initiatives, based on the student population of each district

As the November vote draws nearer, many eyes across the state are on State Question 779, the penny sales tax.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle agree teacher pay is an issue that needs attention but they aren't all sold on the sales tax being the best option.

Republican state Sen. David Holt is one of those lawmakers who has also been a longtime supporter of teacher pay raises.

“I want a teacher pay raise desperately introduced legislation earlier this year for a $10,000 pay raise. I just want to do it a different way,” Holt said.

Members of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association agree that education needs more attention and funding and that's why they support State Question 779.

“The last teacher pay raise was voted in place in 2006, a decade ago,” association president Shawn Hime said

Hime unveiled a Financial Impact Report for the proposed sales tax.

Oklahoma County alone will get $85 million in teacher raises and to improve academic programs.

How much money each district gets is based on how many students are enrolled in that district.

For example, the report shows $26 million would go to teacher raises for Oklahoma City Public Schools, the largest in the state.

"It will give answers where there were a lot if questions and patrons want to know is there money to pay for a $5,000 raise,” Hime said.

In a News 9 education poll taken earlier this month, 62 percent of viewers said they would support the penny sales tax, 34 percent oppose.