The Duncan Banner

Education

July 6, 2014

School storm shelter petition raises budget questions

OKLAHOMA CITY —

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma budget writers say an initiative petition to install storm shelters and safe rooms in every Oklahoma public school could overstress the state's biggest and most critical revenue fund and slow the flow of tax dollars for vital public services.

For the second time in less than a year, a group known as Take Shelter Oklahoma is collecting the signatures of voters to put the issue on a statewide ballot.

Supporters say State Question 774 is a moral obligation shared by parents and others to protect school students following a massive tornado that struck Moore on May 20, 2013, which killed seven students at Plaza Towers Elementary School. But others are concerned about the plan's $500 million state bond issue to fund the shelters, money that would be repaid over 25 years from the state's General Revenue Fund.

"It's a sizeable amount of money," Senate Appropriations Committee chairman s Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said. "You can take it away without a tax increase. But you're going to have to cut agency spending in this state."

State Treasurer Ken Miller said government has a responsibility to provide for public safety, but that "further eroding the state's beleaguered General Revenue Fund with additional off-the-top earmarks is not the solution."

The storm shelter plan's advocates first started gathering signatures for the initiative in September, but abandoned it in April after complaining that changes to the proposed ballot title by Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office moved the focus from the construction of school storm shelters to how they would be funded — through a franchise tax on businesses.

The new proposal shifts funding for the school shelter proposal to the General Revenue Fund, a $5.8 billion fund that is tapped by almost every state agency and is state government's principal operating fund. Pruitt's office raised no objection to the wording of the ballot title for State Question 774.

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.

 

1
Text Only
Education
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • College graduates are sorting themselves into elite cities

    Census data suggests that in 1980 a college graduate could expect to earn about 38 percent more than a worker with only a high-school diploma. Since then, the difference in their wages has only widened as our economy has shifted to bestow greater and greater rewards on the well-educated. By 1990, that number was about 57 percent. By 2011: 73 percent.

    July 11, 2014

  • How professors are using Facebook to teach

    Technology is an established part of the lives of students. But university lecturers are becoming increasingly frustrated at how they must compete with tablets and laptops for students' attention in the lecture hall.

    July 11, 2014

  • New York to offer free lunch to all middle-school students

    New York's $75 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began last week includes the first step toward offering free lunch for all 1.1 million students, expanding a program now reserved only for the city's poorest children.

    July 9, 2014

  • Survey shows colleges flouting sexual assault rules

    More than 40 percent of 440 colleges and universities surveyed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., haven't investigated a sexual assault in the past five years, according to a report released Wednesday.

    July 9, 2014

  • School storm shelter petition raises budget questions

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma budget writers say an initiative petition to install storm shelters and safe rooms in every Oklahoma public school could overstress the state's biggest and most critical revenue fund and slow the flow of tax dollars for vital public services.

    For the second time in less than a year, a group known as Take Shelter Oklahoma is collecting the signatures of voters to put the issue on a statewide ballot.

    July 6, 2014

  • Avoidable injuries are killing too many young Americans

    Not so cheerful news before your holiday weekend: Some sobering new government numbers show just how many young people die from injuries that could have been avoided.

    July 3, 2014

  • Study: Kids gain weight more quickly over summer break

    Any parent or teacher can tell you that schoolchildren tend to slip back a bit academically over the long summer break. But now a Harvard University study has come up with troubling indications that they also gain weight more quickly during those months when, traditionally, we hope they're outdoors much of the time, enjoying the summer sun.

    June 18, 2014

  • screenshot starbucks.jpg Starbucks to pay part of college tuition for US store workers

    Starbucks, which has offered company stock for store workers for more than two decades, will now begin picking up most of the college tab for its employees.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

No. It's better in the summer cause kids are out of school.
Yes. More shoppers would come during nice fall weather.
Either time is fine.

     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.