Tulsa Mayor Joins Group Opposing SQ 779, Seeking Different Solution

Wednesday, October 26th 2016, 10:43 pm
By: News On 6

State Question 779 asks voters to approve a one-cent sales tax to fund teacher pay raises; and with election night less than two weeks away, it’s getting some last-minute opposition.

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett is one person opposed to the question and joined a list of other opposing mayors.

The coalition of mayors is part of a larger group called Oklahoma Deserves Better. The group isn't opposed to giving teachers a pay raise, they just want a better solution.

State Question 779 proposes a one-cent sales tax dedicated to funding education and giving teachers a pay raise; a News On 6 poll showed strong support for the idea.

But, less than two weeks before the election, Oklahoma Deserves Better is urging local elected officials and people opposed to 779 to form a coalition.

OCPA Impact is another group opposed to 779 but started looking almost a year ago for another plan.

"I think there's a lot of people around the state who are concerned that State Question 779 would unnecessarily burden Oklahoma families,” said CEO Dave Bond. “There's no need to raise taxes at all to make sure every classroom teacher in Oklahoma public schools around the state can get a pay raise of $5,000 or better, and it's well past time to get a pay raise."

Bond understands why groups of elected officials oppose the sales tax proposal.

"That's going to put those communities over a 10 percent threshold on their sales tax burden, and so a lot of those people in those communities are very concerned that would be a bad thing for economic growth in our state," he said.

On the yes side, Tulsa Public School Board Member Suzanne Schreiber said she’s disappointed people are making a last minute effort to oppose State Question 779.

"Our kids don't have a dress rehearsal, they can't wait for a different plan. They need the plan that's on the table now and Oklahoma voters know that," she said.

OCPA Impact said if State Question 779 fails, they'll be lobbying next legislative session to get teachers a pay raise.