Oklahoma Watchman: Why The ‘Teacher Pay’ Tax Increase Was Unnecessary









Recently we here in Oklahoma had the dishonor of watching our state legislature cave in to the demands of the various teacher's unions at the expense of the tax payer. This didn't have to happen. To the shame of the legislator's and the Governor they demanded a tax increase and bullied their way to get it. There was never any discussion about reforming the education system. We the People of this great state lost because the unions and the State Chamber of Commerce wanted this to happen. The common hard-working citizen had no choice in the matter.


This caused was pushed by the lame stream, we meant main stream media propaganda arm of the union. One of these decades we may see them return to honest reporting, but not in the near future. What peaked our interest in this story was this article by a small publication called Non-Doc. They are one of the few online papers in this state that does a very good job of investigative reporting. What we found to be most disturbing about this article was the teacher's since of betrayal that an initiative petition to overturn the tax increases was launched almost immediately. We can't help but wonder if they realize that this is a log rolled bill and probably would not stand against a court challenge. The mistake was made when they included the other state employees in the bill for a pay raise.


Now we would like for you to open and read this next article. This is a report on the findings of the Joint Task Force on Tax Credits. What it won't tell you is that up until the mid-1980's, the state was limited in it's ability to give tax credits. Tax credits were primarily issued by city and county governments. That was repealed. The state decided it knew better to the tune of $6.1 billion dollars. Some of that money was returned to the politicians in the form of campaign contributions. This is occurring even to this day.


Another group out there that does a good job at investigative reporting is OklahomaWatch.org. A good example of there work can be found in this article. This will show you how Oklahoma stood against the rest of the nation from 1969 through 2017. We were far from the National Average consistently. It is pointed out that great strides were made in the first decade of this century but have lacked progress for ten years. Do we feel they deserve a raise, yes. But along with their raise must come reforms. Our students deserve better.


Another item that we found was this article. For all of you who are under the impression that this strike was just something they recently planned, you are terribly wrong. The states largest teacher's union has been planning this strike since last summer. The torn and tattered out of date books they used that was eaten up by the media was staged. Yes, the union produced fake news.


Now we took he time to go back a couple of years, when the unions started agitating for a pay raise, and compared rhetoric to fact. At the time the rhetoric was always the same. Oklahoma is last in the nation in teacher's pay. Facts are hard to hide, and we feel the unions were hoping no one would look into the actual facts. We did, and we limited our review to states that shared a common border with Oklahoma. We began with state profiles and this is the State Profile for Arkansas.


We next found this State Profile for Kansas. We would hope that our elected officials or their staff would have taken the time to do this type of research.


We next found the State Profiles Page for Colorado.


Then we found this State Profiles Page for Louisiana and Missouri. This actually gives you a chance to view the differences between two states.


Then we found this State Profiles Page for New Mexico.


Then we found this State Profiles Page for Missouri.


Then we found this State Profiles Page for Oklahoma.


Then we found this State Profiles Page for Texas.


That tells you what the differences are between the states. As you can see there isn't much. Now we are going to dig into the real story of pay and see why Oklahoma Teacher's are in such a fit. You must remember that the figures you see here are an average of salaries for all the teachers within a state.


We started by going to this site for the state of Kansas. The average salary for a teacher at that time was $47,755 a year.


We next went to this site for New Mexico. The average salary for a teacher at that time was $47,163.


We next went to this site for the state of Texas. The average salary for a teacher at that time was $51,890.


Then we found this site from the State of Oklahoma. Once you get to this site you are able to download the salary of all the current educators and administrative staff. Have fun.


Then we found this site for the Oklahoma teachers. Their average salary for a teacher at that time was $45,276. Regrettably there are working couples in Oklahoma that don't earn that much.


Then we found the site for Louisiana Teachers' Salaries. They made at the time an average of $49,745 a year.


Then we found the site for the Arkansas Teacher's average pay. At the time they made an average of $48,218 a year.


Then we can't forget Missouri. We found this site on Missouri's Teacher's pay. This indicates that the average teacher's ay in Missouri was $47,957.


It doesn't take a math wizard to see that Oklahoma teachers are some of the lowest paid educators in the area. These averages don't tell the entire story. These averages don't indicate what the starting salary is by state nor do they indicate the highest salary by state. The biggest item these averages fail to reflect for the state of Oklahoma is the cause for the lack of adequate funding for raises and the lack of appropriate standards for eligibility to become a teacher. We shall address both here shortly.


We can say that the lobbyist did their jobs well this year. The way we know this is by this article we found. This is from the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. If you will open the link and look under the section titled "Legislative Agenda for 2018" you will find that they are more about politics than business.


Then we found this devastating article. As parents frustratingly try to understand why their children cannot succeed in school or why they fail to maintain a job or can't read or write they have no knowledge that daily they are sending their most precious children to an education system that only requires a teacher maintain a 2.5 percent grade point average while attending college. We know that there are some highly educated and well-meaning educators out there who did better than a 2.5 percent grade point average in college, but the Department of Education needs to stop forcing mandated test on these students, so the teachers can do what they've been trained to do and that is teach. The minimum grade point average to become a teacher needs to be raised. Our children deserve better.


When we found this article we weren't really surprised. The scandal plagued government led by Governor Fallin has even made a stop at the State Department of Education. The individuals involved may have been cleared, but the involvement took their eye off the mission long enough to bring the end to quality education in Oklahoma. What a disgrace.


Then we found this article. This is something that we feel everyone was fully aware of. Spending per student can actually very from district to district. Although useful information, it fails to fill a gap in what is essentially a very real need of the state's ad districts. The funds used to collect this information could have been better spent in budget reduction or school grants.


We also found this report from the OkPolicy.org. This report is typical of a government that fails to properly manage the available funds. Our legislators would much rather give tax breaks to their corporate campaign backers than to educate our children properly. That puts the welfare of our children and our state at risk. Just think how far $6.1 billion dollars a year would go in restoring roads and fixing the infrastructure of this state. Just imagine how much improvement could be made to our education system.


Then there is this article. This is one that is a must read. It indicates that after analyzing a report, the report failed to include any state, county or city generated revenue to the schools. Quoting the article "Further, the report, from a progressive or liberal-leaning group based in the nation's capital, listed Oklahoma as having made the steepest reductions in state spending on public schools." We're not saying that there was a little bias in the report, but the article does indicate an increase in state spending on public education each year.


Then a very interesting question was raised by the OkPolicy.org. With the veto petition going on, should it make the ballot in November, will the pay raise for the teachers be delayed? We don't honestly know. We believe it will be held back however the funds for each teacher would be held in an escrow account and should the initiative fail, they would receive back pay.


As has been typical with our Governor and Legislature, they have once again opened their mouths and inserted their feet. We found this report where the Governor signed the tax bill she's been wanting for her entire term in office. Unfortunately, it may also face a legal challenge as it covers two different subjects. Not only does it give a pay raise to the teachers, but to save time they included other state employees in the bill. It's what is referred to as log rolling. It is also against the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma. Just so the legislature could go home three weeks early.


In conclusion there are several options that we as citizens can take. The first is already out there, the veto initiative, which we support. The second is the court challenge which we support. We also support a primary challenge to any candidate that voted for this ignorant piece of legislation. We would also support an initiative for a state question raising the requirement for approval of a tax or fee increase to 85 percent. We would support lowering the term limits. We would support a petition for a state question that would give the citizens the right to recall their elected officials. No longer can we afford to let them run rough shod over us. It's time we put some fear of the people back into the government.