Let’s Give it Back

During a recent chat on Facebook, myself, Rick Cobb (okeducationtruths) and several other passionate advocates for Oklahoma public education decided to launch an important campaign. Because we believe so strongly in what we are proposing, we decided to post simultaneously tonight.

We would love to have your help and support.

Before I share our plan, I want you to consider the following facts:

  • According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, when adjusted for inflation, Oklahoma’s general per-pupil funding dropped 24 percent between the 2008 and 2016 school years.
  • After inflation, the initial FY2016 state aid formula for public schools was $376 million less than in FY 2008, even as schools are tasked with educating about 50,000 additional students.
  • The FY 2016 budget reflected an initial $611 million dollar shortfall. To cover a portion of this, $150 million was appropriated from the state Rainy Day Fund for budget stabilization. The remaining balance is about $385 million.
  • Because state revenues fell below the 95% threshold required by law, a state revenue failure was announced in December, triggering $176.2 million in cuts in agency allocations for the current budget year.
  • The State Board of Education approved a $46.7 million funding cut for the fiscal year ending June 30, including a $25 million reduction in funding that goes to schools. This may force the closing of schools in Oklahoma THIS year.
  • The Oklahoma Board of Equalization met in December and approved an estimate of $6,059,238,267 in revenue available for the governor to prepare her fiscal year 2017 executive budget proposal. That amount is $900.8 million, or 12.9 percent, less than the previous fiscal year.
  • According to Budget Director, Preston Doerflinger, this amount may increase to $1.1 billion by the time the Board releases their final report in February.
  • Despite the state’s fiscal challenges, state lawmakers refuse to stall the implementation of a 0.25 percent rate reduction for 1.7 million Oklahomans. Taxpayers with federal adjusted gross incomes of $40,000 to $44,999 a year can expect to save about $35 a year.
  • Using the tax calculator provided on the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s website, my monthly checks may increase by as much as $12 during 2016.

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Here’s the bottom line.

I don’t need that extra twelve bucks a month. While this would provide one extra night out at McDonald’s for my wife and me each month, or even a large drink and bucket of popcorn at the movies, it is money we can easily do without.

Since the Governor and state legislators are too prideful, or ignorant, or both—to do the right thing and stop this income tax reduction—we are left with no choice.  I refuse to be a hypocrite and accept this money when I know essential services are being cut across our state. Therefore, on April 15, 2016, I will be redirecting the full amount of my income tax cut ($144) to support students in my school district.

While I understand that this must be a personal decision for you and your family, I would encourage others to join my family in “Giving it BACK.”

You can choose to donate your to your local school or district, to your favorite charity, or give it to a pro-education candidate up for election this year. Thanks to Seth Meier for that idea!

WE do have the power to circumvent the ignorance and hubris of our elected officials.

While the amount of money involved may be seemingly insignificant, the potential message to our lawmakers can be powerful. However, to do this–to TRULY make a difference–we need thousands of you to join us.

It’s simple.

Go to the OPI calculator to compute your tax reduction. Then decide how you will use your donation to make a difference in your school or community. If you can do more, do more. If you need ideas for where to give, call your local school and ask where they need help. I guarantee they will have ideas.

Tell other people what you’re doing. Write a letter to your local newspaper saying you gave it back. Post it to your social media platforms. Tweet it to the world using the hashtag #GiveItBackOK. Be one of thousands of Oklahoma citizens who will make a difference for kids and schools.

We thank you for your support!

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Image Credit: Angela Clark Little

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18 thoughts on “Let’s Give it Back

  1. Please check to make sure that the state won’t deduct from schools the amount of money that is donated. This has happened before. Their reasoning is that they have allocated so much in funds for that school district, and if it is donated, then they do NOT have to provide the funds.

  2. And the lottery is in the billions.
    Someone please show me exactly where all this lottery money
    Designated for schools
    Is really going.

    Education in Oklahoma is failing miserably!

    • Donna, in reality revenues from the lottery that go to schools have simply allowed the legislature to reapportion other general fund dollars. It has little to no impact.

  3. I’m going to send our $400 directly to our school district. However, what is the procedure for that so I can let our legislatures know what I am doing and to whom would I send the check?

    • We are thinking about how to do this. I was thinking taking a pic and posting to twitter or Facebook. Our sending the pic to your legislators. Or writing a letter to the editor.

  4. This is what is wrong with education in Oklahoma. Why should I as a teacher give back a dime to a system that refuses to pay me a fair wage. This type of thinking is why our leaders will continue to cut education and refuse to give us teachers a raise. What a complete joke! How many of you, I wonder, have voted for these Republicans who have driven our state into the ground. How about instead of giving money back you actually vote for a Democrat to fix this mess! It shouldn’t be political but that’s what Fallin and Baressi…I mean Joy have turned it into. Our kids are suffering and new Democractic leadership is needed now!

    • Couldn’t agree more! Bailing them out will do nothing towards making changes. I have to wonder how many of these parents & teachers who are so upset (as they should be) voted for the very people who are doing just what was expected. In this reddest of red states ( title most Oklahomans are so proud of) they just can’t vote anything but strait Republican. I remember reading on this blog that it was important to elect Joy rather than a school superintendent because she would be more effective working with the Republican legislation. How’s that working for us? I read recently that she is purchasing Jeb Bush’s education program another year! Really?? I think I better save my tax cut because I am not getting rich on Social Security ( which the Republicans want to prioritize).

  5. In writing this post, I pledge to deliver a check tomorrow to the Ada School District, where I taught for twenty-nine years of my thirty-one years in common education. However, I was also in an administrative position after that for fourteen years at East Central University.

    Therefore, I think it is very important to point out the our state’s colleges and universities are experiencing the very same cuts in funding as are our local districts. I challenge every Oklahoman for whom their college education has made a positive impact on their life to take this opportunity to make a donation to that college or university. A small amount from each of us can combine to make a large impact on our school, colleges, and universities! Thank you, in advance, if you decide to participate.

  6. Great idea! However in my cynical mind I wonder if our giving will give the legislators more ammunition for privatizing education. They would respond to this possibly by saying ” yes! This is how it should be- citizens should pay for their education and create a free market with schools therefore creating competition” :-/

    I will give to my school district with joy! But waiting to see who is watching…

    Thanks for all your leadership!!

  7. You could send some of it to Oklahoma Policy Institute. It is a non-profit doing vital research on Oklahoma’s budget and policy priorities. David Blatt is the director. They developed the tax calculator mentioned above. Great idea to donate it somehow!

  8. I just pledged my tax cut for 2016 ($136) to my district Nible Public Schools. Hope many others do the same! Thanks for the nudge!

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