First Step in School Tornado Shelter Ballot Measure Will Be Filed This Week

  • Joe Wertz
State Rep. Joe Dorman

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Proponents of a ballot measure to help fund schools storm shelters are hoping to put a $500 million bond issue in front of statewide voters.

The first step in the ballot measure process is filing initiative paperwork, which supporters plan to do on Sept. 18, the Tulsa World’s Barbara Hoberock reports.

Local school districts would decide whether or not to build tornado shelters, and would have to raise matching funds, the paper reports. The bond issue would redirect proceeds of the state franchise tax to pay down the bond issue’s debt, backer State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, tells the World:

Supporters will have 90 days after filing with the Secretary of State to obtain the more than 155,000 signatures that will be needed to get the issue on the ballot, Dorman said.

Once the signatures are collected and verified, Gov. Mary Fallin would set an election date.

The State of Oklahoma has directed most of its post-tornado federal disaster aid to programs that encourage private shelters, not ones in schools, StateImpact has reported. In recent years, Oklahoma has helped fund about 10,000 private shelters and about 85 school shelters, data from the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management show.

Individual school districts — Edmond, Madill and Woodward, to name a few — have been considering or passing bond issues to build tornado shelters on their own.

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