Seniors would be harmed by SQ 744 passage

BY REBECCA MOORE Published: October 27, 2010

On Tuesday, State Question 744 will be on the Oklahoma ballot. What Oklahoma citizens might not realize is the potential devastating impact its passage will have on seniors and the long-term care industry that provides for them.

State Question 744 is an amendment to the state constitution that requires Oklahoma state government to spend an equal amount on education as the six states surrounding Oklahoma: Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.

If SQ 744 passes, the Oklahoma Legislature will be forced to find $1 billion per year to give to education. And every time one of the six surrounding states increases how much it spends on public schools, Oklahomans will be required by law to increase how much it spends on schools too.

There is no existing funding source to provide the money that will be needed — and the proponents even admit that.

So where will this $1 billion come from? Taxpayers and state agencies.

If taxes don't increase, the Legislature would be forced to cut the state budget by $1 billion. That means every other area of state government — programs, departments and services — would face severe cuts. Not a single state program, department or service would be bypassed.

The Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers strongly opposes State Question 744. The passage of SQ 744 could have the most devastating impact on our state budget in history. Public safety, agriculture, prisons, roads and bridges and nursing homes will suffer.