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SQ 779: State Question focuses on increase in Oklahoma state sales tax to fund education
11:03 AM, Oct 15, 2016
12:09 PM, Oct 18, 2016
Would you agree to raise the state sales tax by one cent to increase funding for public education?
That is what Oklahomans must decide when voting for or against State Question 779.
The breakdown of the revenue generated from the increase would be:
69.5 percent to school districts, which would require raising teacher salaries by at least $5,000
19.25 percent would go toward higher education
8 percent would go toward the State Department of Education (early childhood education)
3.25 percent would go toward the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education
The measure, if passed, would prohibit the money to be used to increase superintendents' salaries. It prohibits adding superintendent positions. The money cannot be used to replace or supplant other education funding. The measure will require an annual audit to ensure the districts are using the money appropriately.
The tax would go into effect July 1, 2017.
Supporters of 779 say it will help slow the flow of teachers leaving the state for higher-paying teaching jobs, it will be constitutionally protected to ensure the money is spent as allocated, enrollment has climbed by more than 45,000 students since 2008 while Oklahoma has led the nation in cuts to education funding in the same time frame.
Opponents of 779 say money for teacher raises can be found elsewhere without having to raise taxes, increasing taxes will harm low-income and middle-income families since it's a flat tax for everyone, it could increase taxes in some communities to more than 10 percent.