Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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December 17, 2013

Plan for school shelters thwarted by Okla. tax cut

(Continued)

"There's no meat left on the bone," said Trammell, who said students will use hallways and bathrooms for storm protection though they don't meet federal standards.

In Norman, reinforcing the gym added $200,000 to the cost.

Students in Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore were also following the traditional procedure when they clustered in hallways at about 3 p.m. May 20 when an EF-5 tornado swept into the community. Winds measured at more than 200 mph collapsed a concrete wall on the children, ages 8 and 9.

Dorman, a Democrat, said he wasn't trying to put Republicans in a difficult political position with his proposal. He said he chose the franchise tax because the Legislature had temporarily suspended it so the money wasn't spoken for. The revenue would be used for the bond payments.

"That just seemed like the best place to draw the money without hurting the budget," he said.

But Republican leaders maintain that eliminating taxes, especially those on businesses, will encourage more investment in the state, generating more money for communities to pay for their own needs.

Since the rebuff, supporters of the shelter initiative, organized as Take Shelter Oklahoma, have become embroiled in a dispute with Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt and the State Chamber over Pruitt's use of wording in the ballot initiative that emphasizes the funding mechanism.

Some fear the issue is becoming hopelessly entangled in politics.

"When people are holding press conferences in front of the attorney general's office attacking the state chamber, we have gone far afield from the issue of our children's safety," said Republican Sen. David Holt of Oklahoma City.

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Online:

Oklahoma Secretary of State's Office, State Question 767: http://bit.ly/GVcCmZ

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Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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