Regionalism – BA Council supports chamber plan

November 28, 2013

The Broken Arrow City Council last week gave unanimous approval to promotion of a set of political proposals by the Tulsa chamber – most of which really improve Tulsa but have no direct benefit in Broken Arrow.

The Tulsa Chamber has manufactured its “OneVoice” agenda and is trying to get area cities to agree so that the Tulsa Chamber can send lobbyists to the U.S. Congress and the Oklahoma Legislature to enact its program. Almost every thing on the list involves a tax increase or special tax exemptions for businesses that typically are part of chambers of commerce.

Ronda Vuillemont-Smith president of the Tulsa 9-12 Project spoke at the council meeting and voiced some major disagreements with the resolution, including government-subsidized high-speed rail service from Tulsa to Oklahoma City and financial support for Common Core in public education.

“And I am against the ‘closing fund’ which is nothing more than cities bribing businesses to locate in their city,” Vuillemont-Smith said. “A lot of these things really concern me.”

Another Broken Arrow resident reacted to comments from the councilors. “My favorite comment at the BA meeting was from one of the councilors – ‘I have heard several people voice opposition to One Voice,’” the citizen wrote in an e-mail. “‘I was here when people voiced opposition to the Creek Turnpike and that turned out to be a benefit to Broken Arrow. As such, I recommend that One Voice be approved. That is a less-than-veiled way of saying, We know what we are doing. We know what is best for you. Because a previous project went well, that makes it certain that all future projects will go well. You citizens are just too stupid to understand that, so just shut up.’”

Here is a list of resolutions from the Tulsa Regional Chamber:

  • Add millions to the state business slush fund – “the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund.” Since it was created in 2011, the slush fund has been given $7,000,000.00 in taxpayer funding.
  • Passage of a bond issue to borrow money to build a Pop Museum in the Brady District in Downtown Tulsa.
  • Construction of the Gilcrease Expressway in West Tulsa.
  • A feasibility study by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on a new bridge over the Arkansas River in South Tulsa County at Yale.
  • Support taxpayer funding for improvements to the Arkansas River in Tulsa.
  • Raise taxes by taxing Internet retailers and cut the fees charged to cities for tax collection by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
  • Opposition to cutting or eliminating the federal tax exemption on state and local bonds.
  • Increase funding for public education, including higher teacher salaries.
  • Support for an annual subsidy of $18,250,000.00 for the OSU Medical Center in Tulsa and its 154 residents.
  • Continued funding of Insure Oklahoma, which pays for health care for low-income people.
  • Spend more on training new doctors.
  • Raise funding for state roads.
  • Increase the budget of the Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology by $24,000,000.00 a year.
  • $100,000,000.00 in payments to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (Port of Catoosa) for maintenance.
  • Support for funding the Highway Trust Fund and reauthorization of the Federal Surface Transportation funding. This includes:
    • Work on Interstate 244 in Tulsa
    • Widening of I-44 east to the Will Rogers Turnpike (to accommodate gambling traffic at the Catoosa casino)
    • Expansion of U.S. 169 to six lanes to Oklahoma 20
    • Construction of a Port Road on Highway 266 from U.S. 169 to the Port of Catoosa
    • Expansion of U.S. to six lanes from Oklahoma 11 to Oklahoma 67
  • Reauthorization of the Water Resource Development Act (includes work on levees in Tulsa)
  • Passenger rail service, including high-speed rail, from Tulsa to Oklahoma City.
  • Funding of $17,000,000.00 for a fuel storage facility for the Tulsa Air National Guard Base in Tulsa.
  • Support for state regulation of oil and gas exploration and production, particularly hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and water disposal.