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Oklahoma can give public school teachers a $5,000 pay raise without increasing sales taxes or adding new taxes.
David Boren’s sales tax increase isn’t “only a penny” – in fact, the Boren tax increase would force Oklahoma families to pay a 9.8% sales tax burden, the highest of any state in the U.S.
Cost to give each of Oklahoma’s 42,027 public school classroom teachers a $5,000 pay raise:
$245 million
Wasteful or nonessential state government spending that can be eliminated or reformed without hurting core services like classroom education, roads and bridges, or public safety:
$753 million

A PLAN FOR ACTION

1 Eliminate some of the $753 million in wasteful or nonessential state government spending (See inside for more details) 2 Give every Oklahoma public school classroom teacher a $5,000 pay raise

The MENU

Here is a menu of $753 million worth of options for providing the $245 million necessary to give every Oklahoma public school classroom teacher a $5,000 pay raise.

Some of Oklahoma’s wasteful or nonessential state government spending that could be eliminated or reformed to fund a teacher pay raise includes:

  • Sell the Italian monastery – in Tuscany, Italy – owned by the University of Oklahoma. Savings = $20 million (or, $5,000 pay raise for 4,000 Oklahoma teachers)
  • Reduce appropriations to the State Regents for Higher Education, a state government entity whose chancellor is paid over $400,000 a year by Oklahoma taxpayers. If the Boren tax increase were to become law, higher education would take at least $100 million more from Oklahoma taxpayers. Savings = $100 million ($5k pay raise for 20,000 teachers)
  • Implement state employee health insurance reform, as already passed and signed into law in 2015 via House Bill 1567. Savings = $95 million ($5k pay raise for 19,000 teachers)
  • Use investment earnings from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, or TSET. The terms of the settlement clearly state the funds are eligible to be used for common education. Savings = $43 million. ($5k pay raise for 8,600 teachers)
  • Eliminate, for state government agencies, funding for sponsorships of NBA games and other sporting events, non-critical travel, membership in the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures, and purchase of unnecessary “swag” promotional materials. Savings = $39.8 million ($5k pay raise for 7,960 teachers)
  • Perform telecommunications audits for state government agencies. Savings = $3 million ($5k pay raise for 600 teachers)
  • Properly allocate state funding for Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System and bill federal government for its full share of funding. Savings = $20 million ($5k pay raise for 4,000 teachers)
  • Non-appropriation request by Office of the Attorney General. Savings = $6 million ($5k pay raise for 1,200 teachers)
  • Allow state Insurance Department to become fully non-appropriated. Savings = $1.8 million ($5k pay raise for 360 teachers)
  • Allow state Horse Racing Commission to become fully non-appropriated. Savings = $2 million ($5k pay raise for 400 teachers)
  • Stop overly subsidizing Career Tech functions when tech centers are sitting on millions of dollars in un-used building funds. Savings = $3 million ($5k pay raise for 600 teachers)
  • Stop subsidizing losses on golf courses owned by state government. Savings = $200,000 ($5k pay raise for 40 teachers)
  • Stop using state taxpayer dollars to subsidize rodeos, county fairs and museums that charge admission. Savings = $8 million ($5k pay raise for 1,600 teachers)
  • Eliminate sales tax exemption for tickets to National Basketball Association and National Hockey League games. Savings = $2.2 million ($5k pay raise for 440 teachers)
  • Eliminate sales tax exemption for tickets to professional sporting events. Savings = $700,000 ($5k pay raise for 140 teachers)
  • Eliminate state tax credit for electricity generated by zero-emission (wind) facilities. Savings = $88 million ($5k pay raise for 17,600 teachers)
  • Eliminate exemption from ad valorem taxes for wind infrastructure. Savings = $44 million ($5k pay raise for 8,800 teachers)
  • Eliminate manufacturer’s sales tax exemption for wind energy facilities. Savings = $67 million ($5k pay raise for 13,400 teachers)
  • Implement reforms of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program like those producing cost savings and improved health outcomes in Louisiana, Kansas, Florida and other states. Savings = $100 million ($5k pay raise for 20,000 teachers)
  • Sell already identified, unused, state assets. Savings = $11 million ($5k pay raise for 2,200 teachers)
  • Keep appropriation for State Department of Education at same level as Fiscal Year 2016 – $2.48 billion – but dedicate 4% to teacher salary increases. From 1992-93 school year through 2013-14 school year, statewide student enrollment in Oklahoma increased 14% and teaching personnel increased by 13%, while non-teaching, administrative personnel increased by 34%. Had non-teaching, administrative personnel grown merely at same rate as student enrollment, annual savings would exceed $294 million. Savings = $99 million ($5k pay raise for 19,800 teachers)

 

Sources: National Education Association, Oklahoma Policy Institute, Oklahoma Watch, The Oklahoman, Tax Foundation, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Windfall Coalition, National Center for Education Statistics, Oklahoma Tax Commission, Oklahoma State Department of Education

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