Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett wants a sales tax increase for city officials to spend but is opposed to an increase in sales tax statewide to benefit public education.
Bartlett and the Oklahoma Municipal League filed a brief with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to stop a proposal statewide sales tax hike because it would give Oklahoma one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation.
Bartlett and the City Council are planning a vote in April for a sales tax hike in Tulsa that would bring in tens of millions of dollars in new revenue.
An effort led by University of Oklahoma President David Boren involves an initiative petition that could place State Question 779 on the ballot in November of 2016.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court rarely kills a petition drive before it is submitted. The liberal justices stopped a petition that would have granted personhood to unborn children before the deadline to submit signatures because the court claimed that treating an unborn baby as a person was “unconstitutional.”
If the statewide sales tax increase of 1 percent were approved, it would generate $615,000,000.00 annually. Boren’s group said it would allow a $5,000.00 raise for all teachers.
Similar promises about education funding have been made in the past concerning revenue from the state lottery and tribal casino gambling. Those revenue streams are way below promised amounts.
OCPA Impact, part of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (a conservative think tank in Oklahoma City), also filed a protest with the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Sales tax is a primary funding source for cities and towns. The increase in Internet sales has lessened revenue from local retailers in Tulsa. Cities, including Tulsa, do get millions of dollars each year from property taxes through the sinking fund.
The Vision 2025 county sales tax is a temporary sales tax that expires in 2017.