The rule of Republican supply-siders in Oklahoma has brought us to the budget crisis we now face. While corporate welfare and incomes for our top 2% have risen, we have sunk to the bottom in most every measurable category: income equality, health outcomes, educational attainment. A once proud state has been reduced to shuttered rural hospitals and businesses, crumbling roads and bridges, and growing disparity of incomes.
Nowhere is our failure under austerity policies more pronounced and self-defeating than in our public schools. Failure to keep schools funded has now led to a walkout of teachers across the state, who not only demand long-neglected raises, but funding for school upkeep, books, supplies, support staff, as well as arts, foreign language and science programs – things that should be taken for granted but have been cut from our schools. They audaciously demand that all Oklahoma public schools operate for a full five-day week!
Oklahoma’s wealthy and corporate entities depend on consumers and taxpayers – which include teachers and their families — to maintain the marketplace that allows them to prosper. But the cost of educating our children cannot rest solely on those groups. It’s past time to even out the responsibility, by raising the gross production tax back to the historic 7% (or more), eliminating the capital gains deduction and other tax breaks that benefit only the very wealthy.
OROK fully endorses the teacher walkout, for as long as it takes to make the legislative leadership come to its senses and pass bills that restore Oklahoma to a basic standard of public services through progressive tax reform.