MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 5, 2013

Taxpayers deserve say in schools


— Legislation that would forbid the state from creating unfunded mandates for school districts should be dropped.

The legislation, authored by District 14 Rep. Arthur Hulbert, R-Fort Gibson, would require state legislators to first find money for implementation before creating mandates.

“One of the most common complaints I heard was that our schools are being overwhelmed by unfunded mandates,” Hulbert said about his time on the campaign trail. “In my opinion, we need to promote local control of our schools and decrease the number of government mandates.”

However, school districts receive funding from government.

If the Oklahoma Legislature provides money up front for school districts to use, then legislators should be able to tell districts how to spend some of that money.

Property taxes are used by counties to fund local school districts.

And those funds vary widely throughout the state depending on the value of properties within a district. That creates financial disparities among school districts.

The state Legislature must help ensure that a basic education is the same throughout the state. The state Legislature must create mandates for school districts in order to level the playing field for all students.

School districts are spending taxpayer money. Taxpayers deserve a say through the Legislature about how that money is spent.