Editorial: Vote NO on Tulsa sales tax hike

Mayor Dewey Bartlett and all of the “nonpartisan” city councilors have learned that it’s fun to spend someone else’s money. They want to persuade Tulsans to raise taxes by $884,634,000.00 through higher sales taxes. Sales tax is the most regressive tax, meaning that it has a greater impact on poor people and the middle class than the rich (like the rich who run the chamber). They much prefer to spend hundreds of millions in higher sales tax than to hike property taxes because, you see, they own property that would be subject to those taxes.

On April 5, conservative Tulsa taxpayers have a chance to say no to higher sales tax. In November, when the mayor and council are up for re-election, they can say no to higher utility bills, limited police protection and lousy streets by voting in a new set of officials.

With the Stock Market tanking (like in 2008) and unemployment rising (thanks to the oil glut), this is no time to raise taxes. While individuals and businesses struggle to pay for health care under Obamacare, this is no time to hike the cost of everything. Not only is this tax egregious, but look at the ridiculous list of pork projects it will finance. That includes:


$65,000,000.00 – Gilcrease Museum

$8,000,000.00 – Tulsa Children’s Museum

This is almost double ($45 million) set aside for streets.

Arkansas River

$64,214,000.00 – Low water dam

$63,000,000.00 – Zink Lake


$25,000,000.00 – Tulsa Zoo

$1,000,000.00 – Performing Arts Center rehab

$2,250,000.00 – Tulsa Arts Commission

These are luxury items. The PAC should pay for repairs out of its own sinking fund.


$14,500,000.00 – Tulsa Public Schools

$10,000,000.00 – Tulsa, Union, Jenks public schools

$3,600,000.00 – OSU-Tulsa

$16,250,000.00 – Langston University

$5,320,000.00 – Tulsa Community College

Public schools and state universities are supported by state funds, not by cities. TCC already gets a huge chunk of property taxes. Why is Jenks in a Tulsa tax package? Tulsa has Langston, OSU-Tulsa, OU-Tulsa, TCC and NSU in Broken Arrow – why do we need municipal funds for higher education?

“Economic development”

$15,000,000.00 – BMX bike headquarters

This has got to be some kind of a joke. This spends one-third of the amount dedicated to streets on a bicycle project.

If Tulsa passes this, we will continue to have one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation. Many states exempt sales tax on groceries to help poor people but not here. It’s too much fun to spend that money. In 2003, city and county officials promised that Vision 2025 would be a “temporary sales tax” for specific purposes. It produced a lot more money than projected.

Now that the county sales tax is about to expire (like it should), the city wants to fill its coffers with a higher tax rate.

Sales taxes are down for a variety of reasons. This tax hike won’t produce as much revenue as promised by the city financial “experts” due to a sagging state economy.

If Tulsa needs more revenue for basic services, we should grow the economy through genuine efforts to attract new business and to encourage the development of existing business. This administration has failed to do that. They think a huge casino on the river is “economic development.” It’s not.

Elderly Tulsans and those on fixed incomes will suffer under these new taxes. And if the state passes a one-cent sales tax for public education, Tulsa will be close to double digits for sales tax. The liberal media is backing the Council and the chamber once again because they will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise a yes vote.

The country is in a mess. Let’s not make it worse in Tulsa by raised the sales tax rate by hundreds of millions of dollars.