Edmond Opposes Sales Tax Increase For Teacher Raises

Tuesday, July 26th 2016, 3:43 pm

Edmond City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing State Question 779 which would, among other things, raise teachers’ pay by raising the sales tax by 1 percent.

Moore first grade teacher Allyson Strider knows what it's like to struggle with a low-salary. 

"I ended up having to move back in with my grandma because I could no longer afford to pay rent,” Strider said. “And I know that's the same for one of my best friends who is a teacher also. She had to move back home."

Strider said a proposed 1 percent sales tax to give teachers a $5,000 raise would help. 

State Question 779 would add a new article to the Oklahoma Constitution to improve education by raising an estimated $615 million through the 1 percent tax. 

About $245 million of that would go to programs other than teacher raises.

Edmond City Council members said municipalities rely on sales taxes for services like public safety and those revenues would drop if the measure passes.

"Right now, 4.25 percent of the sales tax we collect goes to the state. This would make it five and a quarter," said Edmond Mayor Charles Lamb.

Opponents said there are better ways to afford teacher raises like tax reform or consolidating school districts. 

"I mean, we have 500 school districts. We can combine six states together and it's more. It's more than Florida, California. I mean that probably is something that needs to be addressed," said Carolyn Stager with the Oklahoma Municipal League.

Strider said she really doesn't know what the answer is. What she does know is that she and other teachers won't be able to stay in teaching without a raise. 

"The reality of it is, I can't afford to have a family and be a teacher at this point in my life," she said. “It's not practical."