Question Submitted by Howard, 051420 OKAG, 2020 OK AG 9

Docket Nº:2020 OK AG 9
Party Name:Question Submitted by: The Honorable Brent Howard, Oklahoma State Senate, District 38
Attorney:MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA GLEN D. HAMMONDS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Case Date:May 14, 2020
Court:Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions
 
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2020 OK AG 9

Question Submitted by: The Honorable Brent Howard, Oklahoma State Senate, District 38

No. 2020 OK AG 9

Oklahoma Attorney General Opinions

May 14, 2020

MIKE HUNTER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA

GLEN D. HAMMONDS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL

¶0 This office has received your request for an official Attorney General Opinion in which you ask, in effect, the following question: Does 11 O.S.2011, § 22-159 allow a municipality to use revenue in excess of its expenses to support a school located within the municipality when the sources of such excess revenues are municipal sales tax proceeds and utility sales?

I.

BACKGROUND

¶1 Until the passage in 1999 of what is now codified as Title 11, Section 22-159, a municipality was not directly authorized to provide funding for public school districts. In its current form, Section 22-159 provides as follows: Municipalities may support any public school system located in whole or in part within the corporate limits of the municipality or any public school system located outside and completely surrounded by the corporate limits of the municipality, including without limitation by the expenditure of municipal revenues for construction or improvement of public school facilities. In furtherance of municipal support for any public school system, as authorized by this section, the municipal governing body may take all actions necessary to effectuate such support.

11 O.S.2011, § 22-159. Section 22-159 was upheld by the Oklahoma Supreme Court against various constitutional challenges in Grimes v. Oklahoma City, 2002 OK 47, 49 P.3d 719, a case involving two municipal ordinances that apportioned sales tax revenues to support local school districts. The Court further held that while Section 22-159 does not explicitly authorize municipalities to levy a sales tax, that authority was implicitly granted under the municipality's broader authority to "support" a local public school system. Id. ¶¶ 17-18, 49 P.3d at 726. 1 Specifically, the Court stated "'Support,' as used in § 22-159, implies financial support, which necessarily implies the power to levy taxes." Id. ¶ 18, 49 P.3d at 726. 2

II.

DISCUSSION

¶2 You ask whether a municipality may use general fund revenues derived from sales tax revenues and utility sales, which are in excess of its expenses, to fund day-to-day operations of the public school located within the municipality. Because revenues from a municipal sales tax are subject to different restrictions than revenues from utility sales, we address them separately.

A. Title 11, Section 22-159 generally permits a municipality to expend sales tax revenues in excess of its expenses to support its local public school system.

¶3 Section 2701 of Title 68 permits the State's...

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