State Question 779. This is the question that would increase the state of Oklahoma sales tax one penny to fund public education and give Oklahoma teachers a much-needed pay raise (or at least that is what it purports to claim). There is no question among anyone that public education is in terrible shape in Oklahoma and that teachers haven’t had a pay raise in 5 years.
Because of actions by the governor and our state legislators, many who were elected as anti-public education candidates and many of whom the very teachers who need the pay raise voted for have spoken and they are saying they won’t step up and properly fund public education, so they are going to let working people and lower income families do their job and fund public education and a teacher’s pay raise by placing the burden squarely on those in our state that can ill afford the hit.
Sales taxes are the most regressive taxes we have as the people who pay them are mostly the middle-class workers and those whose incomes fall in the minimum wage category. Oklahoma’s minimum wage is an unlivable Seven dollars and twenty-five cents per hour ($7.25) and it is well below the national average for the minimum wage, in fact, only two states have a lower minimum wage.
While I firmly believe that teachers need a long overdue pay raise and while I know how critical education funding is it is abhorrent to me that our cowardly state legislators and our do nothing to offend big corporate governor refuse to do the right thing and seek to fund their lack of guts on the backs of the poorest people in our state.
Big corporations pay little or no state sales taxes because of various reasons and tons of exemptions they receive from the state of Oklahoma that allows them to avoid paying sales taxes. So the people who will be funding education are the people who are already overburdened. It is shameful to me to think that we will be forcing more and more people into poverty to fund our public education and I would be ashamed to take a pay raise that I knew would mean that more people would be forced into poverty because of me.
There are a number of ways public education and teacher pay raises could be funded and not place the funding burden upon the least of ours, but the state legislature and our erstwhile governor do nothing failing chose to pull a Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of doing the right thing.
Good Christians all of course when it comes to restricting a woman’s right to have control over their own bodies. Good Christians all when it comes to placing a certified copy of the Ten Commandments on state property. Good Christians all when it comes to trying to restrict the rights of gays and lesbians and transgenders.
But when it comes to following that Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth and listening to him they fail miserably. He said, “What you do unto the least of mine, you also do unto me.” Placing an onerous tax burden upon the least of Oklahomans to me is an effrontery to the teachings of Jesus and us who claim to be Christians and as people who as Christians should care about all the people of this state need to stand up and say no to State Question 779.