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Penny Sales Tax Opponents File Oklahoma Supreme Court Challenge

University of Oklahoma president David Boren signs a petition February 16, 2016 for a one cent sales tax proposal to fund education.
Emily Wendler
Oklahoma Public Media Exchange
University of Oklahoma president David Boren signs a petition February 16, 2016 for a one cent sales tax proposal to fund education.

A conservative advocacy group filed a legal challenge with the Oklahoma Supreme Court Thursday against a penny sales tax initiative that would be used to generate more money for Oklahoma’s public education system.

The legal filing by OCPA Impact contends the ballot title for the initiative and an explanatory statement, known as the gist, fail to describe important details, according to The Oklahoman’s Rick Green. It says the 1 percent tax would be in addition to other state sales and use taxes now in place:

Dave Bond, the chief executive officer of OCPA Impact, said his organization supports a $5,000 raise for teachers, which is a key part of the initiative. But Bond said this could be done without boosting taxes. He said the legal issues with the proposal are real. "I think the taxpayers of Oklahoma deserve someone looking at past legal precedent and making sure that if were going to raise our sales tax in Oklahoma to the highest in the country, let's make sure we do it properly at least. Let's make sure we follow the law. Let's make sure we follow the constitution," Bond said.

The filing also contends that the gist inaccurately describes the tax as increasing by one penny instead of 1 percent and that it doesn't adequately explain how the money would be used.


University of Oklahoma president - and former governor and U.S. Senator - David Boren has championed State Question 779 as an instrument to raise an estimated $615 million, which would go toward pay raises for teachers, higher education and other programs.


"It is disappointing that anyone would want to prevent the people of Oklahoma from voting for a real solution to our education crisis. I am confident State Question 779 will survive this challenge," Boren wrote in statement.

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Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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