The 2010 elections may seem far off. But in the state Capitol folks are already lining up their message and jockeying. Which can only mean the next legislative season will interesting. Lawmakers up for re-election will either be overly cautious, not wanting to offend or they’ll be outlandish, hoping to garner attention and get their name out.
Either way, it’s incumbent upon voters to pay attention and try to understand the issues, not just the rhetoric.
Today is the second day of the legislative hearing on State Question 744. The issue will be on the ballot in the 2010 election and seeks to get more money for education. The HOPE school funding Initiative seeks to make it mandatory that the state legislature to allocate a certain amount of money to the state’s common education system. The amount would be based on the average spent per student in surrounding states. The measure is backed by the Oklahoma Education Association and could cost the state up to $850 million each year. Proponents of the measure say education standards continue to increase and the needs of students continue to grow, but the funding for education isn’t meeting the needs. Here’s a fact sheet from the folks supporting SQ 744.
Leading lawmakers, however, say the measure would limit their ability to met the budget requirements of other agencies. If one agency is supposed to get a mandated amount of money, how do lawmakers handle tough budget years like this one? Several agencies will have to be cut so that education can be funded at the mandated levels, ranking Republicans say.
At today’s hearing, agency heads are expected to speak about how their operations would be impacted by deep budget cuts. Here’s a video editorial from The Oklahoman’s editor Ed Kelley, talking about the measure.
Obviously parties on both sides of the issue are passionate. This is when the power of informed voting becomes even more important. Voters should pay attention to these issues now, before the heady days of campaign season begin and it becomes difficult to see the issue through the “message.”
– JULIE BISBEE, Capitol Bureau