October 11, 2010



on 744

Dear Editor:

Education is a wonderful thing. The United States is one of the few countries where everyone is eligible for an education. High School is not restricted to only the smartest kids – anyone who makes the effort to pass the lower grades can go on to high school and/or college.

State Question 744 will be the first of 11 questions on the November ballot and this is what it is about. Please read all the way to the bottom of this piece.

State Question 744 is a constitutional amendment proposed by the Oklahoma Education Association. It is a forced reallocation of state appropriations from state government services to education.

The amendment requires the Oklahoma Legislature to match the regional average of per pupil spending in states touching Oklahoma's borders. That means legislators in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Missouri and New Mexico will determine each year how much money Oklahoma must spend on common education – public schools through the 12th grade.

When fully implemented in three years, SQ 744 would require Oklahoma to spend approximately $1.2 billion each year on K-12 education. The money will come from massive budget cuts in other state agencies.

SQ 744 prohibits Oklahoma lawmakers from ever spending less than the regional per-pupil average on public schools, even if the state is hit by a devastating budget catastrophe like the one Oklahoma is experiencing now.

SQ 744 is a proposal to amend Oklahoma's Constitution. If approved, it can only be changed by another vote of the people. The Oklahoma Legislature, which cannot change any part of SQ 744, will be forced to follow the requirements of the new law whether the people of Oklahoma like it or not.

However, State Question 744 is supposed to be only about education. Sounds good but it is an "UNFUNDED" bill. That means there is no money for it. Where will the money come from??? From every other state agency! Let me give you an idea of what will happen if this bill is passed.

 – Positions at DHS will be eliminated, cutting workers who provide food stamps and health care to the working poor. Child welfare and adult protective services workers will be cut, leaving Oklahoma's most vulnerable citizens unprotected.

– At least $343 million in federal matching dollars for Medicaid to care for seniors, children and other ailing Oklahomans will be lost.

– As many as nine prisons will be closed and 8,400 criminals will be released early.

– The Health Department will lose staff to monitor food safety and nursing home inspections.

– $192 million will be cut from the state's highway budget in the first year SQ 744 becomes law, derailing the repair of thousands of crumbling bridges and deteriorating highways.

– The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be forced to close treatment beds and outpatient programs.

– Already spiraling tuition hikes will skyrocket, making college unattainable for thousands of Oklahomans.

– Scholarship money for deserving college students will dry up.

These are just a few of the cuts in services SQ 744 will bring. No area of state services and no state program or agency will be spared.

This bill, if passed will amount to a TAX INCREASE because all of our state services will be affected. How else can all of these things I've mentioned be paid for?

How many people do you know who use the Health Department, get food stamps, strive for college scholarships and rely on critical services provided to the citizens of Oklahoma? Since when do we let other states dictate how much money we spend per student in Oklahoma?

Remember, the Government (whether State or Federal) cannot give someone something that they haven't first taken away from someone else. Government has no "product" to make money. The only money they have is ours, our tax money, and it's a proven fact that they are not good stewards of our money.

This bill needs a NO  vote. More money does not make a better student. Good parenting and good teaching does.

Jeanie Singleton


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    Dear Editor:
    Education is a wonderful thing. The United States is one of the few countries where everyone is eligible for an education. High School is not restricted to only the smartest kids – anyone who makes the effort to pass the lower grades can go on to high school and/or college.

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