Edmondson Stakes Out Public Education Funding as Focal Point of Gubernatorial Campaign
Democratic candidate for Oklahoma governor Drew Edmondson said a statewide tour taught him public education still needs to be fully funded.
"We are tired of four-day school weeks in one-fifth of our school districts. We’re tired of 30 percent of our school districts not offering a foreign language when it remains a requirement for admission to many of our colleges and universities. And we are tired of overcrowded classrooms and too few teachers," Edmondson said.
To get another $300 million to invest in public education at the K–12, higher ed and career tech levels, Edmondson wants to pursue tax increases similar to those in the failed Step Up Oklahoma plan, including a 7 percent tax on oil and gas production, a $0.50 per pack cigarette tax increase, and eliminating the capital gains deduction.
"It is, in many estimations, a modest plan. It will not affect the income tax rates of any Oklahomans unless they deduct capital gains," Edmondson said.
Former OU President and Oklahoma Gov. David Boren said he’s endorsing Edmondson because poor education rankings are threatening to scare off potential new businesses and drive talented young professionals out of the state.
"If we don’t act, we face a brain drain that will cripple Oklahoma for years to come," Boren said.
Edmondson said teachers he talked to also want smaller class sizes, less testing and more classroom resources, like textbooks students without computers can take home.