Oklahoma Lawmakers Disagree on Storm Shelter Funding

Dec 16, 2013

A tornado siren
Credit KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — After a tornado ripped through the Oklahoma City suburbs this spring and demolished two schools, killing seven children, a longtime legislator thought the time was ripe for state action on a well-known problem.

Although Oklahoma averages more than 50 tornadoes a year, about 60 percent of public schools have no shelters. Many cash-strapped districts can't afford to build them.

Representative Joe Dorman has proposed a state ballot question to help with the cost, using revenue from a state business tax. But the idea has been snubbed by Republican leaders. They want to eliminate the tax, saying fewer taxes will help Oklahoma attract more businesses.

The issue is at the center of a debate over whether conservative states should keep cutting taxes or use the revenue to address longstanding problems.