I urge everyone to join me in voting yes for State Question 779 in this election.
— Yes For 779 (@YesFor779) November 2, 2016
SQ 779 will raise the state sales tax by one cent and generate more than $600 million annually that will give Oklahoma public teachers a much needed $5,000 raise. Some of the money will also go to public colleges, early childhood education and career training.
It will protect education funding at the state constitutional level, ensure accountability through regular audits and absolutely none of the money will go to salary increases for school superintendents.
Here’s the breakdown on how SQ 779 will work. If you’re still unsure about this question take some time to go through the site. The SQ 779 site is the absolutely best and most thorough political website I’ve ever seen in Oklahoma, and that’s because it’s operated by highly educated people who care about the state’s children and want to see progress.
— Yes For 779 (@YesFor779) November 4, 2016
I know this is a generalization but most of the people opposed to SQ 779 are the ultra right-wing here, such as the creepy and bizarre Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), which advocates nonsensical “trickle down” economics, and my well-intentioned fellow liberals, who believe righteously and honestly that sales taxes are regressive and impact low-income people the most.
Virtually everyone in Oklahoma believes teachers here deserve a raise. That even includes The Oklahoman editorial board, which publishes some of the most conservative commentary in the country. We pay teachers here some of the lowest salaries in the nation, and they’re leaving the state in droves to make more money. This leaves Oklahoma in a precarious position, which is unsustainable. The idea that we can grow the economy here or improve the state’s overall social and health conditions without a consistent decent teacher pool is complete nonsense.
The case for SQ 779, again, is well presented on the main site.
What I want to do in this post is to respond to some of the well-intentioned liberal arguments against the proposal. I could care less what the freaks at OCPA argue about the question. That organization and its financial supporters have done more damage to this state than all the tornadoes, ice storms and earthquakes combined in our history. I don’t say that lightly. OCPA is an immoral organization dedicated to the destruction of Oklahoma and government in general. SQ 779 is a natural, organic response to OCPA’s blatantly immoral agenda to structurally destroy Oklahoma and hurt its regular citizens in any way possible to serve the greedy interests of the wealthy.
Yet I do understand some of the liberal arguments against SQ 779, and, as an unashamed and proud Oklahoma liberal, leftist, open-minded progressive, I feel duty-bound to respond to people with whom I agree 99 percent of the time on issues. So I say to my fellow liberals who are against SQ 779: We must agree to disagree on this one.
Liberals argue that sales taxes are regressive because low-income people spend on a percentage basis more of their money on basic commodities, such as groceries. That’s true, but education is absolutely the cornerstone of helping low-income families. The ridiculously low salaries for teachers here and the lack of funding for just basic school supplies is far more regressive than increasing someone’s grocery bill by a couple dollars a week. Untrained, poorly paid teachers trying their best in overcrowded classrooms without decent textbooks or equipment is, in my mind, the definition of the word “regressive.”
Some progressives argue that this will ensure Oklahoma has some of the highest city-based sales taxes in the nation. Again, this is true, but, remember, this is on the city level, not on the state level. Our state sales tax is average compared to other states. It’s our cities—Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Edmond, Lawton, Ponca City, Bartlesville, etc.—that have raised taxes on people while giving big corporations a break on fees and other costs so the wealthy can fleece our schools. Cities need to lower their sales taxes by finding other sources of revenues. Liberals need to push to make that happen on the local level, especially in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I think it’s incredibly hypocritical to argue against an increase in the sales tax while condoning either openly or through complacency high sales taxes in the first place.
Some of my friends on the left think University of Oklahoma President David Boren, who has led the initiative to pass SQ 779, is a sinister and dastardly man with ties to big oil. This is an ad hominem argument. Boren’s membership on any given corporate board has nothing to do with giving financially struggling teachers a well-deserved raise. I also think Boren has dedicated his life to improving this state and has been OU’s finest and best president so far in its history. I don’t see any other state leader standing up so remarkably and visibly for teacher raises and education in general. Boren is an outstanding state leader and history will note that. I’ve written some negative things in the past about Boren’s actions on certain issues so I’m no useful tool for him, but, frankly, what he’s doing to pass SQ 779 is a courageous act. He’s doing something, not just complaining. He’s showing up. He’s a real hero for education.
I’ve already voted yes for SQ 779 in my absentee ballot. Early voting is going on through Saturday as I write this.
The GOP-dominated Oklahoma Legislature is systematically dismantling our educational systems here. It’s truly an emergency situation. The people need to speak up by electing leaders who truly care about education and by passing SQ 779.
— Yes For 779 (@YesFor779) November 2, 2016