Over the past couple of weeks, OU President David Boren has gone on the offensive to promote a plan he's come up with to fund teacher pay raises and higher education costs. It's pretty simple. He wants to raise the state sales tax for every Oklahoman who isn't smart enough to buy all their stuff on Amazon.
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...
“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.
Wow. They're claiming the one-percenters would pay an additional $1,700 a year if the state income tax increased by one penny. Think about that for a second. They're basically saying the ultra-rich spend $170,000 a year (on average) in Oklahoma on taxable goods and services. Must be nice, huh?
Anyway, that's an interesting plan. If you read this site regularly, you probably know that I think Oklahoma teachers deserve a pay raise. I also don't have a problem with one-penny sales taxes, especially if they help improve quality of life and get us an NBA team. But I don't like this plan. I have a better idea that President Boren should consider. Instead of raising the taxes for every Oklahoman who buys something, what if we what did these two things:
1. Get rid of the recent income tax cut our legislators gave to the rich. Hey, if you're spending $170,000 a year in Oklahoma on taxable goods and services, you can afford an additional couple of hundred bucks to give teachers a raise. That's like one trip to Whole Foods.
Makes sense, huh? By doing these two things, we can raise money for education without forcing lower-income Oklahomans to fork over an extra penny to the government for every dollar they spend on groceries, clothing and school supplies (if you're a Democrat) or junk food, beer and cigarettes (if you're a Republican).
But wait. I forgot. David Boren makes $383,000 a year as OU president. He also earned over $400,000 in 2014 as a Director for Continental Resources. Raising his personal income taxes and / or taxing the energy company that pays him handsomely to serve on its Board of Directors would be a direct conflict of interest. We can't expect him to support something like that, can we?
In all honesty, it probably doesn't matter. I'm not sure if my ideas would raise enough money to pay for everything Boren wants. Granted, we could also remove the 35% education funding cap on the Oklahoma lottery or sell some of the Nazi-stolen artwork OU his housing, but that would make too much sense. It would never happen.