Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hofmeister's 'claims about money issues have appeared ill-informed'

Noting "a trend line that gives Oklahomans reason for growing concern," The Oklahoman recently discussed a few instances in which state Supt. Joy Hofmeister's "claims about money issues have appeared ill-informed." Read the entire piece here, but I want to highlight what The Oklahoman identified as "a bogus fiscal impact statement":
This year, Hofmeister's agency produced a fiscal impact statement regarding Education Savings Account legislation. That document said the department would need to buy $700,000 in new computer equipment to process ESAs. Yet the calculations involved were no different than what the agency already does with existing equipment on a daily basis. 
It turned out the $700,000 was to replace the Department of Education's entire state aid system, a change in no way tied to potential passage of ESA legislation. The department had requested that equipment purchase as far back as November 2015—months before the Legislature was even in session. 
In a subsequent radio interview, state Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger bluntly noted that the superintendent had “provided a fiscal impact that was completely inaccurate.”
For an accurate fiscal impact statement—showing that the state of Oklahoma will save $267,000 for every $1 million it spends on an ESA program—click here. This fiscal note should come as no surprise, considering that the empirical evidence shows quite clearly that "school choice saves taxpayer money and also has a positive fiscal effect on school budgets—especially when it uses a voucher or ESA structure," as education researcher Greg Forster points out. "When a student leaves, the public school loses all the expenses associated with that student but not all the revenue, because of the convoluted way we fund public schools. Twenty-eight empirical studies have examined school choice's fiscal impact on taxpayers and public schools; of these, 25 have found that school choice programs save money, and three have found that the programs they study are revenue neutral. No empirical study has found a negative fiscal impact."

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