The 90-day window for supporters to gather more than 120,000 signatures in support of a sales tax increase for education officially opened Tuesday.
University of Oklahoma president David Boren is leading the drive to put the one cent sales tax on the ballot in November.
“Let the people decide what kind of state that we’re going to have for the future, what kind of state we’re going to have now,” Boren said during Tuesday’s press conference launching the petition.
The plan would raise about $615 million dollars per year, and 70 percent of that would fund $5,000 pay raises for teachers across the state. Another 20 percent would go toward making college more affordable, with 8 percent going toward early childhood education.
Boren said during a phone interview Tuesday that Oklahoma is first in the nation in cuts to education since 2008.
“If we deny them the ability to get an education and we do not do our share to help out, I don’t think that’s the Oklahoma way,” Boren said. “I don’t think that’s our set of values. It’s contrary to the basic set of values that we have.”
The former governor and U.S. Senator says he expects Oklahomans to support the proposal.
“I believe that our people are very generous people in Oklahoma. We help out each other in times of natural disaster, in terms of the hours we give in voluntary service,” Boren said. “I think the last thing we want to do is deprive our children of the tools they need to flourish in life.”
Supporters need to gather about 124,000 signatures to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November.
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