Oklahoma Ballot Initiative Faces Opposition


Last Updated: July 23, 2010
 

This article appeared in the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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A significant battle is brewing over State Question 744, which will be on the ballot in November in Oklahoma. If approved by voters, the resulting constitutional amendment would require Oklahoma to increase per-pupil spending to at least the regional average of six surrounding states (Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas).

Public school advocates gathered more than 250,000 signatures in order to put 744 on the ballot. The measure would force the state to increase spending from about $6,900 per student now to about $8,300.

Opponents, however, predict major cuts to other state services as a result of the potential increase in education spending; state workers’ groups contend their jobs are at stake; chambers of commerce charge 744 will precipitate a tax increase; and, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau says that 744 threatens agribusiness. Several groups have formed the ‘One Oklahoma’ coalition to battle the measure, and Oklahomans for Responsible Government and others are also organizing against the measure.

The Legislature, meanwhile, passed its own ballot question that proposes to prohibit the use of a set formula, such as the one used in Question 744, to make any spending decisions for the state.

If both measures pass, legal experts say sorting out the contradiction could take years in court.

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Local coverage:

Coverage of the ‘One Oklahoma’ press conference:

Website of proponents of the measure:

Website of opposition:

Read more from the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.