To the editor:
State Question 744 is poised to be one of the larger issues on the Nov 2 ballot.
Considering the ramifications of its potential passage, I would argue that SQ 744 is one of the most important state votes in our lifetime.
SQ 744 is a proposed Oklahoma Constitutional amendment that would dictate we spend at least the regional average on K-12 education.
While that may sound like a good idea on the surface, the devil is in the details.
SQ 744 dictates that our educational budget will be determined by surrounding states who are obviously not considering our budget when setting theirs.
In the event the regional average does go down, we will still be bound to spend at least what we did the year before.
Cost estimates suggest this will be an additional $850 million, to $1.7 billion more per year than what we currently spend.
SQ 744 is solely a money issue.
There is no language regarding standards to increase education.
It simply states that we spend more money on the same status quo.
SQ 744 has no funding mechanism.
Since our state constitution demands a balanced budget, that means the $850 million to $1.7 billion would require a income tax increase, state budget cuts, or some combination of the two to pay the increase costs.
Without a tax increase, every state funded agency would require a 20 percent reduction in its budget to cover the costs incurred by SQ 744.
OCCC and many of the four-year schools we will transfer to would be hit hard with SQ 744 passage.
Tuition would go up, and state financial aid would go down
Faculty and services may be reduced as a result of such a massive budget cut.
Department of Human Services, transportation, highway patrol, prisons, and senior meal programs would all be required to take the same budget cuts.
SQ 744 is simply a bad idea for Oklahoma that attempts to fix one problem at the expense of hundreds of others.