Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks announced Monday he’s submitted a formal request to Superintendent of Public Education Joy Hofmeister for a fiscal impact statement on bills currently before the Oklahoma legislature regarding vouchers, or the inaccurately named Education Savings Accounts.
“This request specifically asks for the direct fiscal impact these voucher bills will have on Oklahoma’s public schools once they are fully implemented,” said Sparks, D-Norman, “not the fiscal impact they will have on the state budget.”
In 2015, the fiscal impact of Sen. Clark Jolley’s Senate Bill 609 on the Oklahoma state budget was estimated by the State Department of Education at $880,000 for FY 2016. This year, fiscal staff from the Oklahoma House of Representatives released a fiscal impact statement on Rep. Jason Nelson’s House Bill 2949 which stated the bill has “no measureable revenue or fiscal considerations” with regard to the state’s budget.
“When we as legislators request ‘fiscal impact statements’ on bills before us for consideration, the documents we receive discuss the impact the bill will have on the state’s budget,” Sparks said. “What I want to know is, what kind of impact will SB 609 and HB 2949 have on our schools directly? How much money do we know will be diverted away from Oklahoma’s public schools if these voucher bills pass the legislature and are implemented in our schools?”
“We are being asked to take public education funding out of our public schools. We need to know what kind of impact these voucher bills will have on our schools before we are asked to vote on them. We need to know what implementation of these bills will mean for our teachers, our administrators, and Oklahoma’s families,” Sparks said.