StateImpact Oklahoma
11:21 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Why Gov. Mary Fallin Won’t Back School Storm Shelter Ballot Measure

Supporters of an initiative petition to fund tornado shelters in Oklahoma schools are gathering the thousands of signatures needed to send the proposal to a statewide vote, but Gov. Mary Fallin won’t be on the list.

Gov. Mary Fallin tours the site of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore days after the May 20 tornado.
Gov. Mary Fallin tours the site of Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore days after the May 20 tornado.
Credit The National Guard / Flickr Creative Commons

The Tulsa World‘s Barbara Hoberock reports the plan, which would use revenue from the state franchise tax to pay the $500 million debt, does not have the governor’s support:

“I am not sure that is the best way of doing it,” Fallin said.

Fallin spokesman Alex Weints explains further:

“If this issue goes to a vote of the people, Oklahomans will vote their conscience and Gov. Fallin will respect their decision,” said Alex Weintz, a spokesman for the governor. “It’s important for people to understand, however, that funding storm shelters or safe rooms in every school is an expensive proposition.”

Weintz told The World if money from the franchise tax is used, it will mean less to go around for other important education-related priorities.

But state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, points out that a Republican lawmaker tried to get rid of the franchise tax entirely last session. The bill, authored by Rep. Leslie Osborn of Mustang, failed.

Weintz says Fallin is also against a statewide ballot measure on the issue because such decisions should be made locally. Supporters counter that the decisions would be made locally, as school districts would be responsible for coming up with some matching funds.

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