On Nov. 8, 2016, Oklahoma voters will consider State Question 779, a statewide penny sales tax to public education. This constitutional amendment would provide a dedicated funding stream to improve teacher salaries and allow schools new resources to help improve student achievement. OSSBA’s Board of Directors endorsed SQ 779 in November 2015.
Watch University of Oklahoma President David Boren discuss SQ 779 during the OSSBA/CCOSA conference.
No. If State Question 779 is approved by voters on Nov. 8, the Oklahoma Constitution will be amended to create a recurring source of revenue.
If approved, the state would begin collecting the sales tax on July 1, 2017. Raises would go into effect for the 2017-2018 school year.
The proposed constitutional amendment was crafted to prevent a reduction or shift in other education funding and instead establish a new source of dedicated, recurring revenue. A portion of the proposed amendment reads:
“A. Monies expended or distributed from the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund shall supplement, and shall not be used to supplant or replace, other state funds supporting common education, early childhood education, higher education, or career and technology education, including but not limited to the Permanent School Fund, the Oklahoma Education Lottery Trust Fund, the Education Reform Revolving Fund, the Common Education Technology Revolving Fund, the Higher Education Capital Revolving Fund, the Oklahoma Tuition Scholarship Revolving Fund, the Common School Fund, appropriations from the Legislature as provided in Article XIII, Section 1a of the Constitution, and any other appropriations from the Legislature used for educational purposes.
“B. The Legislature shall appropriate the monies from the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund solely to supplement other funds supporting common education, early childhood education, higher education, or career and technology education. The Legislature shall not appropriate such monies to supplant or replace any other state funds supporting common education, early childhood education, higher education, or career and technology education.
“C. In order to ensure that the monies from the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund are used to enhance and not supplant funding for education, the State Board of Equalization shall examine and investigate appropriations from the Fund each year. At the meeting of the State Board of Equalization held within five (5) days after the monthly apportionment in February of each year, the State Board of Equalization shall issue a finding and report that shall state whether appropriations from the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund were used to enhance or supplant education funding. If the State Board of Equalization finds that education funding was supplanted by monies from the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund, the State Board of Equalization shall specify the amount by which education funding was supplanted. In this event, the Legislature shall not make any appropriations for the ensuing fiscal year until an appropriation in that amount is made to replenish the Oklahoma Education Improvement Fund.”
The consensus opinion of OSSBA and other education attorneys is yes. Every school district – even those not on the formula – will receive sales tax revenue.
Yes. A $5,000 raise would result in about $858 in employer-related costs. The estimated cost of a $5,000 teacher pay raise plus the $858 in employer costs for all Oklahoma educators is about $300 million. The sales tax is estimated to generate $427 million annually, with $369 million of that set aside for teacher pay raises and teacher recruitment/retention.
Appropriations to school districts will be based on the amount the state Board of Equalization certifies annually. As a growth revenue, sales tax revenue should grow over time. If sales tax collections fall, the amount of appropriations to schools will fall. To account for potential fluctuations in school revenue, school districts should consider spending a small percentage of the sales tax revenue on non-recurring expenses like technology. Over the last 10 years, sales tax revenues have an average growth rate of about 4.7 percent.
The proposed constitutional amendment divides the sales tax revenue for school districts into two categories: teacher recruitment/retention and academic initiatives. Here are the stipulations for each category:
Teacher Recruitment/Retention – 86.33%
Academic Initiatives – 13.67%
Adopt or expand programs, opportunities or reforms to improve:
This page will be frequently updated with information about the plan and resources for school board members. Have questions not answered here? Contact OSSBA Executive Director Shawn Hime.