OKFB President Tom Buchanan issued the following statement in response to Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposal to allow for increases in property taxes to fund local schools.
“In the State of the State address today, Gov. Mary Fallin proposed changes in the manner ad valorem taxes are used for school districts.
“As landowners, Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers know and understand that school district buildings belong to the patrons, or landowners, of the school district. Therefore, it is the patron’s responsibility to either build new buildings or maintain the existing buildings. The state’s current ad valorem, or property, tax process has served Oklahoma school districts well.
“When a school district proposes a bond issue, it identifies the purpose of the tax, the total cost of the tax, and how long the tax will be in place. This allows school district voters to make an educated decision on each individual issue.
“Oklahoma Farm Bureau is very supportive of the existing ad valorem tax system. We are concerned that changing the system to allow for ongoing budgetary expenses would drastically alter the historically successful system.
“Fallin also called for the consolidation of kindergarten through eighth grade dependent school districts, most of which are found in rural Oklahoma. We believe rural Oklahomans deserve the same rights to a quality education as those in urban areas.
“Although we understand sacrifices must be made in today’s fiscal climate, the burden should not be placed on rural Oklahomans.
“As always, we at OKFB are committed each and every day to protecting you from increased property taxes and reduced educational opportunities. We look forward to working with our state legislators to find a solution that serves all of Oklahoma.”