Supporters of State Question 779


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Graph showing where raised money from State Question 779 would go in the state.

Mikayla Barstow, Santa Fe Staff Writer

With the presidential election around the corner, voters will not only have to consider who to vote for president, but also what to vote for their state. In Oklahoma, voters must make the decision to vote for or against State Question 779.

State Question 779 is a question whether to increase the sales tax in Oklahoma by one percent or to leave it as is. If this were to pass, it is predicted to generate $615 million per year for education funding. The other option is to have lawmakers use surplus funds to apply raises to teachers salaries. Surplus funds would dispose of extra assets, but are not promised unless added as a new article.

Supporters of State Question 779 believe many presume that it could strengthen early childhood education and increase high school graduate rates. They hope that with teachers leaving the state for a higher salary, they will be able to bring back more teachers and decrease Oklahoma’s large class size. If the class sizes were to decrease, more students are believed to continue  to college and even graduate. One of the supporters of the tax increase is Santa Fe teacher Valerie Roberson.

“The surplus could change, so while the funds are there this year there would be no guarantee they would be here next year,” Roberson said. “The sales tax is a permanent solution to help educators.”

Currently in Oklahoma the sales tax is 4.5 percent, if this tax were to pass it would escalate the sales tax to 5.5 percent. However, if this passes it will make Oklahoma the nation’s highest sales tax rate and push the rate above ten percent in some areas.  People opposing State Question 779 claim that there are alternative ways of providing teachers a raise such as using surplus funds. Santa Fe teacher Tammy Ober understands why people are against it.

“Increasing taxes is never the best option.” Ober said. “There are alternative options, but how likely are these other options to occur?”

With Oklahoma Legislature showing no signs of funding a convenient way to increase funding, Ober,  Roberson and supporters hope that the sales tax increase that comes with State Question will help teachers around the state.