Fact Or Fiction: The Truth Behind Oklahoma State Question 744

Monday, September 27th 2010, 9:23 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

UNDATED -- The fight over boosting education dollars in Oklahoma continues to heat up, five weeks from election day.

State Question 744 is the subject of dueling television ads now airing all over the state.  It would constitutionally require Oklahoma to spend the same amount per student as the regional average.

9/24/2010 Related Story: OU, OSU Logos Removed In New Ad Supporting SQ 744

That means spending more than $1,400 more per student every year.

But its opponents say that comes at too high a cost.

"There's no way to pay for the $1.7 billion price tag every year," their ad states.

That's misleading.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank that has come out against State Question 744, estimates that it would cost about $390 million the first year, another $400 million the next year, and nearly $900 million the third year.

That's a price tag of $1.7 billion over three years, not every year.

But it is true that SQ 744 does not specify a funding source for the extra education dollars.

"Vote yes on 744, so we can move our schools and our kids forward," an ad supporting SQ 744 states.

New Jersey has the highest per pupil spending in the United States. The Garden state spends $10,000 more per pupil than the Sooner state. Even if 744 passed, Oklahoma would still have to nearly double our education spending to knock New Jersey out of first place.

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry announced his opposition to SQ 744 on September 21, 2010.  Henry said the state does need to increase funding for education, but State Question 744 is the wrong way to do it.

"State Question 744 will hurt education, ironically," Henry said. "It would actually result in a reduction of funding for critical programs and higher education in career tech and world renowned early childhood education program."

Watch The News on 6 at 10 p.m. Thursday, September 30, 2010, as the Oklahoma Impact team puts State Question 744 under the microscope.