Monday, May 11, 2015

Boren: 'We must increase private support for public education'

Two items caught my eye over the weekend related to providing private funds to public education.

First, it appears that some Oklahomans do not want the upcoming 0.25 percent state-income-tax rate reduction to go into effect. They are disappointed in a recent statement from Gov. Mary Fallin's office that "no one currently involved in budget negotiations ... is considering delaying the tax cut." Oklahoma PTA board member Lori Wathen told News 9's Lisa Monahan: "Personally, if I get that tax cut, I'm writing a check back to the State of Oklahoma."

As luck would have it, Oklahoma law does in fact allow citizens to make voluntary contributions to state government. The statute says "gifts of cash or the equivalent of cash shall be made to and receipted for by the Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services." Wathen and others may mail their checks to 2300 N. Lincoln Boulevard, Room 122, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105.

The second item was an op-ed in the Tulsa World by David Boren. "Each of us who cares about the quality of public schools must work to increase state funding for our schools," he wrote. "We must also increase private support for public education. The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is working year-round to help cultivate young minds through programs in American history education, through the support of youth mentoring, through grants to teachers for professional development, and through outreach to public school foundations."

And though Mr. Boren did not mention it, another avenue to be aware of is the Catalyst Education Fund. According to its website, "the Catalyst Education Fund (CEF) is a unique tax credit program that allows businesses to directly support innovative educational programs in Oklahoma's rural public schools."
You will be supporting innovative and groundbreaking projects within our state's public education system. Students will benefit firsthand from the CEF, as these funds will augment programs and further advance opportunities for a high quality, challenging education. 
All contributions are eligible to receive a tax credit, or tax deduction which will directly reduce the taxes you pay on a dollar-for-dollar basis. By law, donors can receive a 50% tax credit for the first year's donation; if donors pledge for three years, the tax credit increases to 75% for the first year and 50% for the following two years. 

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