Oklahoma Education Sales Tax Question Petition An Easy Sell

Thursday, March 10th 2016, 2:25 pm

Thursday, school vouchers died in the Oklahoma legislature. They would have allowed students to attend private schools using public tax money to pay for tuition.

At the same time, a petition drive is underway to get State Question 779 on the November ballot.

If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would increase the state sales tax by 1 cent for education funding. Supporters say about $378 million of the expected $615 million generated would be used to fund raises for teachers.

The rest, or $125 million, would go to higher education: $50 million would be for grants; $50 million would be for early childhood programs; and $20 million for vocation and technology education.

Say Yes To Schools website

The petition circulators work just about anywhere there's a crowd that might support an education sales tax.

For Susannah Post, the hardest part of the job appears to be just figuring out where the people are.

"Go find some people and there's also just ducking into places," she said.

Thursday she was in Brookside, going door to door and asking people to sign a petition that would put a penny sales tax on the ballot.

"It would be a $5,000 for every teacher in the state," she explained.

In most cases, it didn't appear to be a hard sell. Almost everyone she encountered agreed to sign the petition.

1/22/2016 Related Story: EXCLUSIVE POLL: Support Grows For One Penny Sales Tax Increase

“I have a 6-year-old son, school age,” said petition signer, Chris Vose. “Yeah, I'm all for it.”

The petition drive was started by OU President David Boren and a group called "Oklahoma's Children - Our Future."

They'll have to collect 123,000 signatures over three months.

Diane Roberts agreed to sign it, in part, because of the debate over school vouchers.

"I think all kids have the right to go to public school, and it needs to be the best it can be and it's not - it's already underfunded," she said.

Back on the streets, Post said she and the other petition circulators find voters seem to be educated about the issue and willing to pay more to support public schools.

"This is something people are really, really paying attention to now,” Post said.

The circulators work basketball games, concerts and outside grocery stores.

You can find them online, but the petition has to be signed, in person.