Oklahoma Supreme Court OKs vote on penny education tax

[FILE] A file photograph showing chemistry, physics and science textbooks sitting on an empty student desk inside an Atlanta, Georgia school.

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that a proposed penny sales tax that would pay for a teacher pay raise and fund other areas of education in Oklahoma can be placed on a ballot for a statewide vote.

The measure, known as Initiative Petition No. 403, was proposed by a group of education and business leaders who want a one-cent sales tax that would generate about $615 million a year to help fund education and teacher pay raises.

A conservative think tank opposed to higher taxes had challenged the petition, claiming it violates the requirement that any proposed constitutional amendment pertain to only one subject.

According to the Associated Press, in a 6-3 decision Tuesday, the state’s highest court rejected claims that measure unconstitutionally combines multiple subjects into a single vote.

“The court decision today is a great victory for the school children and the people of Oklahoma. It will allow the people to vote to solve our crisis in education. The court was absolutely right to not stand in the way of the right of the people to vote on this crucial issue. The reasoning of the majority was strong and correct,” a statement from OU President David Boren read.

Boren and other state leaders led the push to get the sales tax increase on the ballot. 

Not everyone is on board with the plan.

“In the coming months, we will continue our effort to prevent the Boren tax increase, making sure all Oklahomans understand the Boren proposal would force them to pay the highest sales tax burden in the nation, and nearly half the money from the tax increase would never go to teachers,” said David Bond, CEO of OCPA Impact.

Bond says he will work during the legislative session to come up with a different option.

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