State Question 744 Media Blitz Claims Put To The Truth Test

Thursday, October 21st 2010, 10:12 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma --  The campaign to boost education dollars loses another major education ally. Former Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor went to work for Brad Henry as an education advisor. Now she's come out against State Question 744.

Both campaigns for and against the controversial state question are launching major media blitzes.

"When it comes to your child getting a good education, some people are standing in the way."

The latest ad in support of state question 744 takes aim at politicians. Supporters of 744 blame them for draining education budgets, while they cash in.

Oklahoma lawmakers' base salary is $8,000 more than the next highest salary in the region. The ad goes on to talk about hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cuts to Oklahoma schools.

10/20/2010 Related Story: Battle Continues Over State Question 744 As Election Day Nears

The fact is even if we cut Oklahoma lawmakers' salary to zero, it still would only add up to about $7 million, a fraction of the amount needed to pay for state question 744 which is estimated to cost nearly $2 billion over the next three years.

State Question 744 means a devastating $1.7 billion in tax hikes or budget cuts.

The folks opposing 744 also have a new ad that warns of dire consequences if the state question passes.

The ad quotes a study where lawmakers say we'd have to cut other state agencies by 20 percent to pay for 744.

The head of Oklahoma's prisons says that would mean 8,400 criminals would be released, but 744 supporters say neither the tax hikes nor the agency cuts have to happen.

They point to nearly $2 billion in tax exemptions that would cover the bill for 744 - without costing any other agencies a dime.

Through property tax increases on the elderly and new taxes on medicine.

Opponents claim those tax exemptions would cost the elderly and the sick more. Supporters of 744 say those are just scare tactics.

The Yes campaign says they can find enough money to pay for 744 in one line item: exemptions for sales to manufactures. That category includes tax breaks for mushroom crates and recyclable drink containers, and supporters say eliminating them could free up $1.7 billion without touching any other area of the budget.

Opponents of 744 say the state question doesn't guarantee a funding source, so the money could come from anywhere.

Supporters of 744 calls the No campaign's ad "fear-mongering."