Sen. Thompson pleased teacher pay raises and education funding will stand

State Sen. Roger Thompson said the end to an effort to repeal education funding was great news for Oklahoma schools and for the entire state.

The State Supreme Court ruled in June that the petition to repeal increases in cigarette, fuel and energy taxes was deeply flawed and said the ballot title was misleading. The court also said required information about legislation the petition was seeking to repeal left out required material. Under the ruling the group, which was led by former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, had until July 18 to circulate a new petition. The organization announced last week they would not make a second attempt.

Thompson, who is the incoming Senate Appropriations Committee chair, said the funding was critical for the future of public education in Oklahoma.

“For the past several years, our state has been hamstrung by international economic forces and by budgeting practices that needed reform. Core services, including education, have endured multiple cuts. While we have continued to seek and implement efficiencies and reforms wherever possible, we simply did not have the resources necessary to increase teacher salaries and put more money in the classroom without new revenue,” said Thompson, R-Okemah.

“If you talk about growing the economy and job creation, there is simply no better economic development tool than education. The more education an individual has, the higher their earning potential is—and that raises the per capita income of the entire state,” Thompson said. “The quality of our schools and the education levels of our work force are critical factors when businesses are deciding where to locate and expand.”

“It all starts with our public schools. But we must continue to build on the achievements of this past legislative session. Education must be this state’s top priority, but words alone won’t do it. We must make policy choices and investments that back up those words. It’s going to be my number one priority as Senate Appropriations Chair,” Thompson said.

2 thoughts on “Sen. Thompson pleased teacher pay raises and education funding will stand”

  1. Honorable Steve Kouplen & Roger Thompson:

    Henryetta has been and continues to be a city under siege by this administrations incessant fiscal dependence on its citizens. The September City Council Meeting illuminates yet another bailout in the making – “Trash Rate Increase Discussed” saying the city is losing money each month, council members are looking into a rate increase for trash service”….; gentlemen, this is a facade with greater issues. “City workers are researching plans to raise that from $2 to $3 each month” is risible at best. Why, no research is required, the city is in DEEP financial straits of the council’s own making.

    To put the siege in more bolder terms, having identified over $35,000,000 in questionable use of taxpayers resources since 2010 supported by FORTY ignored Open Records Request and after a four year legal battle at a cost of $750,000 to its citizenry on $9.5 MILLION DOLLAR of the $35MM, a FAILED WATER SYSTEM that was to come on stream in December 2011, in late 2017, this council arrogantly obligated its citizens to pay OWRB $38,000 a month for the next twenty years (That’s $10,000,000 dollars) on a water system THAT DOES NOT FUNCTION, all the while deceiving its citizenry on the settlement and the OWRB obligation. The bigger problem(s), the city water problem still exist and where does a fiscally beaten municipality cough up another $38,000 a month? This is the current so called “city is losing money” problem. City officials are grossly fiscally inept.

    I and three other citizens met with DEQ in April 2017 seeking answers. That meeting combined with open records request (ORR) to OWRB and DEQ that were honored pose red flags. All the while Henryetta ignores and/or submits half baked responses to ORR on construction, municipal oversight, fiscal accountability, and related questions. I am reminded of the missing $1.7MM in Hartshorne unveiled by a State Audit where three city officials resigned upon the county election board petition signature approval notice. I invite you to read the Dixon ILL (pop 15,000) city embezzlement compromising $53 MM over 25 years. Similar to Hartshorne (pop 2,000) a city drowning in debt, unable to provide basic services to its citizenry, etc. until citizens stood up and petitioned their government. Where does Henryetta stand in comparison, it is anyone’s guess.

    The $9.5MM water system was an integral issue in a 2015 citizens petition for State Audit which has become a bigger issue in a second (in process) citizens petition for State Audit. When is it plausible in the private sector to pay $9.5 MM for something that doesn’t work?

    In a separate but hotly related matter to silence my exposure of questionable use of public resources (Fountain View Manor, INC, Plaintiff, v. Howard Sheward Jr., defendant Case No. CJ 2016-21) the Journal Entry of Judgment reads “On the 29th day of November 2017…IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED THAT ALL PENDING CLAIMS AND CAUSES OF ACTION CONTAINED IN THE ABOVE CAPTIONED CASE ARE HEREBY DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE AND ANY PENDING MOTION(S) ARE HEREBY DENIED AS MOOT.” (Note that this matter is under appeal). State Auditors have been provided all discovery on this matter which can be added to their discovery on the $9.5MM failed water system and related $35MM questionable use of taxpayers resources.

    So why am I contacting you? The city is choking on cash flow issues of their own making. This is a public plea from the citizens of Henryetta seeking your wisdom, counsel and influence as State District Representatives to engage in whatever moratorium emergency action deemed appropriate to STOP the taxing of the citizenry of Henryetta pending such time as the State Auditor has consummated their audit, validated fiscal concerns in a published report, and made recommendations way forward; a tenured process that in the interim must not require a taxable citizenry bailing out a questionable government.

    Subject to my attorney’s recommendation on discussions (due to additional pending litigation) I am at your disposal to discuss remedies facilitating a moratorium of sorts on any local tax, utility rate, trash rate, etc. increases until a mutually agreed upon time-frame commensurate to current investigations is selected.

    V/R
    Howard N Sheward Jr. aka Buck
    HHS Graduate 1963
    OState Grad ’68 (BS) & ’72 (MBA)
    RVN Volunteer 69-70

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