Critics Say Education Funding, Teacher Pay Raises Possible Without Raising Taxes
There are some critics who don’t agree with what’s happening at the state capitol.
Some groups say their issue is not the extra funding, but how the money is being raised.
Ronda Vuillemont-Smith is a member of the Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite Coalition, backed by former senator Dr. Tom Coburn. The group is currently collecting signatures for a veto referendum that would halt some education funding legislation and send it to the voters in November.
Vuillemont-Smith says “the first thing that our legislators do, it seems like, is go after taxes – more taxes – instead of taking the time, auditing these agencies, and doing a deep audit of these agencies to find waste, fraud, and abuse.”
Vuillemont-Smith disagrees with some who call them an opposition group.
“We believe teachers could get a raise and that schools can be properly funded by looking for other measures outside of just raising our taxes,” stated Vuillemont-Smith.
The coalition supports consolidating school districts and superintendents, getting rid of wind subsidies, and auditing state agencies to find the funds.
“If you watch the pennies, the dollars will watch themselves,” said Vuillemont-Smith. “So, if you consider this pennies, these are the things we need to be watching so that we don’t have budget shortfalls and we are also able to fund education.”
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a similar group out of Oklahoma City. Its executive vice president, Trent England, says they are “trying to get legislators and get the public to zoom out and look at the broader picture here and look for ways to provide the funding we need in the classroom without bailing out state agencies in other areas.”
This is a solution OCPA says isn’t anti anything. Rather, it’s a different approach to funding money for our schools.
“Polling shows Oklahomans right, left, and center support teachers and support schools. The question is, how do you do it?” said England.