On Nov. 2, we will be voting on some State Questions among which is #744. This is an issue that will affect all citizens of Oklahoma, no matter your party affiliation.
This week State Rep. Ben Sherrer has expressed concerns over the budget impact of an anticipated $800,000,000 increase in educational appropriations. You may recall the promises of casinos and the lottery to provide funding for education.
Now the dragon of “it’s for the children” is again raising its ugly head, crying for more. That is not to say our children do not deserve and need more, or at least be equal with the surrounding states, which is what this bill purports to do.
However, the measure does not provide for any new revenues. Passage of SQ 744 would ensure a severe funding shortage for all other functions of state government; teachers’ retirement, foster care, prisons, etc.
It would bind our budget to funding decisions made in different economic and funding circumstances by politicians and courts in New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri, some of whom are larger and/or richer than Oklahoma.
To add to the price to be paid, according to the initiative petition, these funds cannot be decreased, no matter in what financial state we find ourselves. We would all like to have the iron clad guarantee that our income will never decrease, and most often increase, no matter our performance or lack thereof.
Anyone associated with government entities today can tell you, most are operating at “cut to the bone” levels. What will they do to come up with another $800,000,000 (yes, that is million)?
Will foster care children be beaten to death due to lack of home visits, will teachers go without their retirement income, will prisons be forced to release criminals for lack of funds for food, housing and guards? We are already dangerously close to these nightmares coming true. Where will it end?
Please contact your state representative and demand all the facts about SQ 744 before going blindly to the polls on November 2 and voting away the future of our state. Don’t fall for “the children deserve this” as we have done so many times. Let’s hold our elected officials accountable to us.
E. J. Pembleton
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