Also at Stake: Critical Funding to Keep Rural Hospitals Open and Key Investments in Vital Infrastructure Projects to Fix Crumbling Roads and Bridges
OKLAHOMA CITY— A group of concerned Oklahomans, including parents, teachers, educators, small business owners, grandparents, and school board members from across the state, filed the legal paperwork today with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to officially challenge the veto referendum effort filed by Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite on May 2nd. Associations joining in the challenge include the statewide organizations that make up the Oklahoma Education Coalition which collectively represent close to 500,000 Oklahoma taxpayers from every political stripe and all corners of the state, including rural, urban, and suburban Oklahoma.
“The investment made in our teachers, students, and other core services this session happened because everyday Oklahomans stood up and said enough is enough, and our elected representatives listened,” Dr. Keith Ballard, a lifelong Oklahoma educator and protestant to the referendum petition, said. “If we let an effort to overturn these investments go unchallenged, it will be on the backs of our students, which is why this fight is so important.”
Bixby parent and PTA member Joely Flegler added, “My children deserve the best education possible, and I’m willing as a taxpayer to invest in their future. That investment not only helps my own children, but it is also an investment in my community and in Oklahoma’s future.”
Putnam City educator Teranne Williams said she is hopeful the legal challenge will prevail but worries about the impact on classrooms should the Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite group be successful in making the ballot this November.
“I’ve seen too many of my colleagues leave for better pay in states that surround Oklahoma or leave the profession altogether because of the lack of investment in our schools and our students,” Williams said. “When the revenue package that funded the teacher pay raise passed after a decade-long fight, many teachers said they would stay. I worry if the funding is overturned, those same teachers will leave the classroom and the teacher shortage crisis will only worsen. We can’t let that happen.”
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About the Decline to Sign 799 Coalition
The Decline to Sign 799 Coalition is a growing list of regular folks — concerned moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, school board members, small business owners, healthcare workers, nonprofit organizations, and others — who care deeply about the future of Oklahoma. We believe we must invest in public education and core functions of government for our state to prosper and grow and for Oklahoma families and communities to thrive. While we made some progress this year, there is still work to be done. We will work against any effort to dismantle our public schools or cripple the services that are vital to the health and well-being of Oklahoma families.