State Question 779: Permanent, statewide sales tax increase
If it passes (“YES” vote):
A massive tax increase on working Oklahoma families, entrepreneurs and private-sector job creators of all sizes. Will create a new, permanent 1% statewide sales tax, on top of the existing 4.5% state sales tax rate and county and municipal sales taxes. Oklahomans, on average, will pay a total state-and-local sales tax burden of 9.8%, the highest of any U.S. state. The average tax increase statewide, per household, will likely exceed $420 every year. Proponents estimate the tax increase will bring in an additional $615 million every year, with a portion of the funds going toward a $5,000 teacher pay raise. However, over 40% of the funds from the tax increase will be pre-dedicated for things besides teacher salaries, including nearly 20% – about $115 million – for the state’s public higher education system, with zero accountability. FYI: To provide a $5,000 pay raise for every classroom public school teacher statewide costs only about $245 million, less than half what SQ 779’s sales tax increase is expected to bring in.
If it fails (“NO” vote):
Oklahoma taxpayers will have been shielded from being forced to pay the nation’s highest sales tax burden. Pressure will hopefully increase on lawmakers at the Oklahoma Capitol to provide a teacher salary increase without increasing taxes at a time when the state’s economy is still reeling from depressed oil and natural gas prices. Superintendents in public school districts, as well as bureaucrats in higher education and Career Tech, will hopefully feel more pressure to be as efficient with the taxpayer dollars they already receive as the Oklahomans who paid those taxes in the first place.