Published Online: July 10, 2014

Gov. nominee: Use franchise tax for classroom

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Rep. Joe Dorman said Thursday he wants to earmark at least $35 million from Oklahoma's franchise tax for public education.

The franchise tax is a $1.25 levy on every $1,000 a corporation invests in Oklahoma. The tax has existed since 1963 and generates about $40 million annually.

The Rush Springs Democrat also criticized Gov. Mary Fallin, who is seeking a second term in office, for not doing enough on education. In a statement handed out before Dorman was to speak, he said, "Fallin failed students. On her watch, hundreds of millions of dollars were cut from education."

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said that the franchise tax generates $50 million annually and that the governor has signed budgets the last two years providing more than $150 million in new K-12 education funding. Fallin has never lost an election during her 25-year political career in Oklahoma that began in the state House and includes terms as lieutenant governor and in Congress.

In front of a handful of parents and teachers who showed up to listen to the speech, Dorman pledged to voters that funds tapped from the franchise tax will not go to salaries or administrative costs, but directly into classrooms, where the situation is dire. Dorman also said his plan also would "protect against radical cuts" to public education.

Some teachers who listened to Dorman's speech said they liked the idea of a dedicated form of in-classroom revenue.

"So often, they say it's going to go one place, then it goes to roads or other thing," said Tulsa resident Susan Fisher, who's been teaching for 30 years. "If (the franchise tax) was really locked onto education, that would be good."

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