Fight Outside TABOR Interests Now and Later
If Oklahoma ends up adopting a TABOR amendment, the state’s public educational systems will be damaged for years to come.
Meanwhile, conservative political interests from outside the state will know for sure that a majority of Oklahoma voters are puppets ready to sell away their own financial interests and their children’s futures for hollow, right-wing ideology.
If adopted, TABOR will come to symbolize on a local level the wreckage left behind by neocons intent on transferring more and more wealth to the nation’s richest citizens while cutting government programs that save the middle-class people money and improve their quality of life.
Of course, the key word here is “if.”
Supporters of TABOR, of the so-called Taxpayers Bill Of Rights movement, recently delivered their initiative petition to the state. They claim to have more than the approximately 219,000 signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot.
TABOR would limit state government spending to a formula tied to population growth and the inflation rate. Colorado voters recently rescinded their TABOR amendment because it had severely reduced funding for education there, and it would do the same here.
Oklahoma is the wrong place at the wrong time for TABOR. We already have severe restrictions on raising state taxes in Oklahoma, and many areas of our government, such as education, are terribly underfunded when compared to national averages. By restricting revenues, the state will have no chance at all to catch up to just average national funding.
(Read more about this issue by searching under the keyword TABOR on the right sidebar of Okie Funk.)
The TABOR movement here is funded and supported primarily by outside political interests, and many petition circulators were paid two dollars for each signature they obtain. One TABOR petition circulation was even arrested when it was alleged he was not even a state resident. There are TABOR initiatives in states throughout the country.
In a recent news release about the TABOR petition drive in which he argued a statewide investigation into the petition drive was needed to protect democracy, State Senator Jeff Rabon said:
“You have to wonder why they have to use out-of-state money to buy a statewide vote on TABOR. We cannot let special interest groups from Colorado, Illinois and Washington D.C. hijack our initiative petition process. Democracy is too precious of a commodity to allow it to be sold to the highest bidder and those willing to trample on our laws to accomplish their goals,” Rabon said. “A coordinated statewide investigation is the only way to preserve this most basic right of a democratic society.”
TABOR supporters, which include the state’s right-wing power structure, waged a dishonest campaign to get the required number of signatures, and the petition should face a legal challenge.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association, for example, has issued an alert about people who may have been misled into signing the petition:
“If you signed a petition in the last two months it may very well have been the TABOR petition. There may be a remedy. If you fill out the form that can be found at the following address you may be able to have your name removed from the petition.”
I think it is fair to suggest that some petition circulators had a certain line or sales pitch get their two dollars per name, and that many people who signed the petition did so after hearing distorted or even false information. This is what you get when you have to bring in paid lackeys to create a bogus political movement and when the local media is biased and lazy.
The right-wing power structure has been advancing an argument that those opposed to TABOR should just roll over, play dead, and allow the measure to get on the ballot. There will be time to debate the merits of TABOR then, they argue. Yeah, right, as if the corporate media and its toadies and apologists here will actually give a fair hearing to both sides of the issue.
We need to fight TABOR from the beginning to the end; we must remain diligent.
If it passes, those who opposed to TABOR can say they acted in good conscience when the public education system becomes completely dismantled in a state that already leads the nation in paying the lowest teacher salaries and is often in the bottom five or ten of per student funding in the nation.