Oklahoma State Question No. 701 (2002)

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Oklahoma's State Question No. 701 is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure failed with 45.1% of voters supporting the initiative.

The official ballot summary reads:

This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It amends Section 40 of Article 10. This measure changes certain procedures related to the tobacco trust fund. It changes the way it is determined how much money in the fund may be spent each year. Now only earnings of the fund may be spent. This measure would base spending from the fund on the average market value of the fund. Each year an amount not to exceed 5 1/2 percent of the average market value of the fund may be spent. The actual percentage amount to be expended is set by the Board of Investors. It cannot exceed 5 1/2 percent. Monies from the fund may be used to pay outside vendors and for financial management services. [1]


When the tobacco fund was set up a couple of years ago, only its earnings could be tapped to fund projects for smoking cessation and prevention, health care, education, cancer treatment and other purposes. At the time, that seemed the wisest, most conservative approach.

But State Treasurer Robert Butkin, who is chair of the fund's board of investors, says that this policy does not take into account years when the fund has no earnings due to flat or negative financial markets. This means that worthwhile programs could go without funding, he says.

Under State Question 701, the board could use up to 5.5 percent of the average market value of the fund over the previous 16 calendar quarters for programs. Butkin said that most permanent endowment funds are set up this way.[2]


Butkin said that he knows of no opposition to the proposal, which will provide a stable source of funding for vital projects aimed at improving the health of Oklahomans.[2]


The measure failed with 45.1% of voters in approval, and 54.9% saying no.

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