OKLAHOMA CITY —
John Estus, spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said that at current interest rates, paying off a $500 million bond issue over 25 years would cost about $32 million a year, or about $800 million over the life of the bond issue.
David Slane, an attorney for Take Shelter Oklahoma, said he expected the cost to be a principal objection. But Slane, whose two children attend public schools in Moore, said if the public has an obligation to provide children with an education, it has an equal obligation to protect them while they are at school.
“Caring for children, educating children and making them safe has got to be a top priority,” he said. “How can you send kids to school and not protect them? It’s worth the expense. It’s worth the tax dollars.”
Jolley said dedicating state tax dollars to pay for storm shelters in schools will take them away from other needs, such as roads and bridges and public safety.
“Thirty-two million dollars would be larger than almost all state agency budgets in the state of Oklahoma,” he said. “The entire size of the state pay raise this year was approximately $30 million.”
Jolley said he believes providing storm shelters and safe rooms in schools should be the responsibility of local school districts, and added that most of the more than 500 school districts have sufficient bonded indebtedness capacity to afford a school shelter initiative on the local level.
“There’s a lot of districts who haven’t topped out on their local expenditures,” Jolley said. “I think the local level is where it should be done. Many districts have already done it.”
Slane said a 90-day period began on July 3 for organizers to collect the signatures of at least 155,000 Oklahoma voters to have the measure placed on the November ballot.