The Norman Transcript

August 2, 2013

School districts stand to lose $60M

By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Oklahoma Tax Commission recently released data indicating that school districts and career technology centers stand to lose $60 million from State Question 766’s cut to revenue from intangible property.

While legislators like state Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, cite the increase in tangibles assessment as a mitigating factor, the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and district superintendents disagree.

“As I said earlier this year, the public must connect all the dots and not look at these measures as independent or unrelated. What the senator said attempted to minimize the loss and fails to acknowledge that, had SQ 766 never been introduced, the schools would have seen growth in funding with the increased tangibles assessment,” Superintendent Joe Siano said.

Increased assessments on tangible property will spell a $50 million increase in statewide revenue, which Mazzei said will equal an “$11 million impact” for the state’s educational institutions — meaning state aid will drop by approximately $11 million for the 2013/2014 school year as opposed to the feared $30 million.

This spring, districts like Norman Public Schools were bracing for a loss in statewide revenue ranging from $72.8 to $100 million, with NPS Chief Financial Officer Brenda Burkett calculating a loss of $1.6 to $2.3 million in state aid to Norman at the March Board of Education meeting.

Siano said the impact of this new number will not be clear until the state aid allocation in December.

“The reality is that public schools are still roughly $180 million behind 2008 funding levels and this year they’ll lose an additional $11 million, and miss out on a potential increase from the tangibles revenue. That money should have gone to schools, but instead we took a revenue source and redirected it to a tax break.”

As Burkett predicted in March, businesses stand to benefit enormously from SQ 766, with CCOSA stating Southwestern Bell (AT&T) alone had a $23 million tax break.

“At this point, we’re relying on our growth in enrollment hopefully increasing state aid, but we won’t know for sure until December,” Siano said.