Group Challenges Oklahoma's Education Tax Proposal

Thursday, November 12th 2015, 6:15 pm
By: News 9

A group is challenging the proposed penny sales tax that, in part, would fund teacher pay raises.

10/21/15 Related Story: OU’s President Boren Leading Charge For Penny Tax Increase For Education

The group Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) Impact said they don't have a problem with educators getting a boost in pay. They have a problem with the language of the initiative led by OU President David Boren.

The group filed paperwork in the state Supreme Court Thursday day alleging the proposed penny sales tax for education violates the state's single subject rule.

“We feel quite strongly that there are four obvious subjects in the petition,” said OCPA Impact CEO Dave Bond.

Besides the teacher pay raises, Bond said some of the proposed tax money would fund other things like higher education and career tech. And, he said it'll restructure the appropriations process, plus make Oklahoma's average combined state and local sales tax burden among the highest in the US.

“This is an issue that I think presents an opportunity to take some stuff that’s not essential for running state government, providing core services and shift those funds into an area that is,” he added.

The group's alternative touts $617 million in possible savings. Among the suggestions, is the sale of the Italian monastery in Tuscany, Bond said is owned by OU, for $20 million.

OCPA Stop Higher Tax Initiative

They said adopting new health insurance practices would put $42 million back in the pot. And if the state stopped subsidizing failed attempts at space travel, they said it'd save another $300,000.

“An asset sale is a stopgap measure that helps provide the teacher pay raises now and can help you get through that period where the reforms are being implemented,” Bond said.

A group supporting the penny tax, Stand for Children Oklahoma, called this filing a delay tactic in the fight to get enough signatures for the measure to appear on the November 2016 ballot.