OU President Proposes Sales Tax Increase To Help Teacher Crisis

Tuesday, October 6th 2015, 5:57 pm

OU President David Boren has an idea to help with the teacher crisis. He's proposing a one-cent sales tax increase and all the money would go toward education.

The tax increase would have to go to a public vote in November, but if successful Boren estimates the tax increase would raise $615 million, a majority of which would go toward a significant raise for teachers.

Susan Drexel has two daughters in school and she's worried about all the qualified teachers being plucked away by other states, and the resulting teacher shortage.

“I think we should all be concerned about it,” said Drexel. 

Boren is concerned. So he's organizing an effort to put the penny sales tax on the ballot.

“Something needs to be done,” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association who represents teachers. “We’ve got to have funding. We’re at a critical shortage right now.”

Boren's proposal would give teachers a $5,000 raise. The rest of the money would go toward funding higher education, early education and career tech.

“Folks are looking outside of the box, they’re talking about supporting public schools with funding and that is exciting,” said Priest.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the proposal would cost medium-income Oklahomans ($50,000 per year) about $262 a year, those who make less than $12,000 per year would pay an additional $90 annually. And the top one percent of earners would pay about $1,700 dollars per year.

Without hesitation, Drexel says she would pay it to make sure her daughters continue to blossom in school.

“I would support it, absolutely. It’s one cent. We’re not talking a huge amount, yet we’re talking a huge difference in our teacher’s lives and our children’s lives.”

Critics, however, argue a sales tax increase would put a greater burden on those who make less money, because those with lower income would pay a higher proportion of their income on the tax.