SQ 795 allocates about 80% of the GPT funds to a $4,000 pay raise for teachers, as well as other certified, non-administrative personnel such as librarians, reading specialists and counselors. This moves us close to the regional average.
SQ 795 will provide $30-50 million annually to local school districts so they can hire more teachers, allowing schools to address the teacher shortage over time.
SQ 795 will provide about $30 million annually to bolster the Early Childhood Learning programs offered across our state, better equipping our youngest, most vulnerable citizens for the classroom.
Our timeline is ambitious. We filed the initiative petition on Dec. 20 after the legislature failed – again – to address the state budget and education crises.
Our opponents – big oil companies who have gotten accustomed to a 350% reduction in their production tax – filed protest. The State Supreme Court will decide the validity of our petition sometime in early March.
If the court rules our petition is valid, we will commence a campaign to get 125,000 signatures from registered voters. We have only a 90-day window to accomplish this task.
That probably takes us into June or July. Then we have to persuade the governor to put our issue on the November general election ballot. When that is accomplished, we will wage a vigorous statewide campaign to get out the vote to help our teachers!
They could, but will they? Our legislature has failed repeatedly to address the state’s budget and education crises. If the legislature passes, and governor signs, a measure to provide our teachers a significant pay raise – which is a gigantic “if” – the Restore Oklahoma Now leadership group will determine whether or not we move forward with this initiative petition.
SQ 795 mandates a yearly audit of these funds and calls for transparency, so citizens can see how that money is used. The measure establishes a reserve fund as a safeguard in the event of a GPT shortfall in the future. We’ve also included specific language prohibiting the legislature from supplanting – swapping, exchanging, changing out – these funds for regular education appropriations. SQ 795 also prohibits the funds from being spent on superintendent salaries.
None. In effect, the initiative petition process belongs to the People of Oklahoma. It’s our voice in making changes to how our government operates.
The legislature can’t stop it, slow it down or change anything about SQ 795, either as a ballot measure or once it becomes the law.
Yes, it is unprecedented. And we fully expect the Big Oil folks to suggest that it’s a bad idea.
Our answer: our legislature has failed repeatedly to fund our schools, our teachers and, most importantly, our students! We feel we must use the initiative petition process to do what the legislature won’t do—address our education funding and teacher pay crisis!
Many of these FAQs are or will be discussed in greater depth in our blog. Check back often for updates!