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What’s next for education funding in Oklahoma?


The toughest decisions I personally faced on election day were A) whether or not to vote for president, and B) which side to take on SQ 779.

For president, I joined approximately 1% of all Oklahomans and left my ballot blank. I vote for candidates. Not against them. And none of the presidential candidates on the Oklahoma ballot – from the megalomaniac con man to the Wall Street establishment lady to the dazy stoner – deserved my vote.

I ultimately voted "No" on SQ 779. I'm not going to lie, I kind of felt guilty doing it. I know education needs additional funding and teachers need a raise, but it was a bad plan. It raised taxes on an overtaxed revenue source, and would have disproportionately affected the same people it was supposed to help. I'm not going to rob from Peter to pay Peter.

Even though SQ 779 was voted down, teacher pay is still an issue that needs to be addressed. Oklahoma Watch talked to the backers to see what they have planned next:

Count them down but not out.

With the defeat of State Question 779, which proposed to raise the state sales tax by one cent for education, some supporters say their voices will be even louder at the Capitol next year.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was among them.

“I will be back before state lawmakers this next legislative session, fighting for kids and a regionally competitive wage for teachers — one that reflects their work as highly trained professionals who change the lives of nearly 700,000 students every day,” Hofmeister said.

Listen, Joy Hofmeister seems like a nice lady. I'm sure she waves cars though four-way stops, tips people at Subway and even leaves Happy Birthday gifs on her friend's Facebook wall, but instead of fighting for kids and teachers, maybe she should start fighting for a generous plea deal that won't leave her sobbing in front of a judge in a year or so. Seriously, she just got indicted. I appreciate that she cares and everything, but based on the text conversation in her indictment, something tells me she's not going to have a lot to do with future education policy.

David Boren also had some comments about the failure of SQ 779:

Hindsight and regrets have not marked public statements by leaders who backed the sales tax.

On Tuesday night, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, who led the campaign supporting the tax, said in a written statement, “While the results did not come back in our favor, we’ve succeeded in starting a conversation across Oklahoma about education and the need for adequate funding.

“We won’t stop fighting to improve funding for our schools,” Boren added. “We won’t stop fighting for our children. Our work is not done.”

Yeah, even though he was noticeably absent from the 2014 rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol that nearly 25,000 public school teachers from across the state attended because they wanted more education funding, David Boren is the person who "started a conversation" across Oklahoma about education funding. Teachers sure are lucky to have such a loyal man who is in no way a political opportunist looking to grab money for his own self interests in their corner.

You can view the entire Oklahoma Watch article here. They go over a few other flawed plans that are being pitched by the OCPA – the "think tank" that probably wants Oklahoma to eliminate public education funding and just teach from the Bible – and David Holt – the guy who introduced legislation to protect the always compassionate Pay Day loan industry. I don't know if their proposals are any good or have a chance at becoming law, but based on comments like this, I'm not confident:

Gov. Mary Fallin considered calling a special session of the Legislature this summer to address teacher pay as an alternative to the state question, but the plan received a lukewarm reception and was scrapped. In a statement Tuesday, Fallin said she’ll revive the issue in the upcoming session.

“The voters have spoken, and I’ll be meeting with our new legislative leaders to discuss a course of action on the issue of teacher pay raises,” Fallin said.

Please go to Washington before you do more harm. Please go to Washington before you do more harm. Please go to Washington before you do more harm...

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