The Norman Transcript


June 10, 2012

Legislature has terrible record of support

NORMAN — Editor, the Transcript:

With the fall election coming up soon, we’ll be hearing lots of campaign promises from various candidates, both incumbents and challengers. Most of us don’t have to be told to take these utterances with the proverbial grain of salt, but you can be certain of one obvious falsehood.

If you hear a Republican candidate for state office say they support education, you know he or she is lying. The evidence in Oklahoma is overwhelming. The Republican-dominated legislature has a terrible record for supporting education at all levels.

Let’s look at some facts (mostly from the Oklahoma Policy Institute or the census bureau). The height of state support for education occurred in Fiscal Year 2009. Since then, it’s all been downhill.

Per pupil spending for public schools in Oklahoma between FY 2009 and FY 2012 is down by 10.8 percent. School enrollment is up and spending is down. And the state started near the bottom on per pupil spending. For FY 2009, Oklahoma was 20 percent below the average state adjusted for regional cost differences. Remember, this was the best funding year we had.

Here are some specifics for public education in the Sooner State. These data represent changes between fiscal years 2009 and 2013. The School of Science and Math has seen its support drop by 21 percent. State expenditures for higher education have declined by about 8 percent during this period. No wonder tuition has gone up so much.

Oklahoma can and should do better than this. Republican leaders should forget about a counter-productive tax cut and put that money where it’s really needed, for critical state services especially education.



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