Imposing a new MAPS tax on OKC residents is economic insanity. Sensible people don't build expensive, unnecessary projects at the beginning of a depression. But our City Council is in fantasyland.
The national economy is collapsing, dragging states and towns with it. Unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures are rising. Tax collections are falling. The Oklahoma budget is $1 billion in red ink. City sales tax collections are down nine consecutive months, with a 12.3 percent November shortfall. The NBA tax is $15 million short. The balance comes out of the general budget. Now we have across-the-board 2 percent cuts in January.
What people and local businesses need right now is a tax cut. Let the MAPS tax expire. Stimulate the local economy by giving residents an extra $80-90 million a year to spend with local businesses, strengthening our jobs situation. How would you like an extra $120 a year to spend for necessities? Or almost $500 a year for a family of four? Just kill the MAPS tax.
The MAPS tax ballot has no specifics. Seriously. If passed, the City Council gets a $777 million slush fund to bail out downtown real estate developers. We don't need a new $280 million convention center. In the 1990s, numerous cities pursued that pipe dream producing a major glut of convention space. Meanwhile, convention attendance is dropping.
Let private parties fund and build a $25 million whitewater rafting facility. Let's make public transit improvements that benefit the whole city instead of $25 million-a-mile streetcar system for downtown. $700,000 a mile for bicycle trails? $50 million for "senior aquatic centers" to compete with the YMCA's and private fitness centers? And how will we fund a new, federally mandated $300 million jail?
Why do you think the downtown property developers are spending $100,000s on a slick ad campaign while avoiding any public debate on the issues? They must think we're stupid!
Putting lipstick on this pig by calling it "MAPS 3" won't turn it into an economic miracle. Stand up to the downtown power brokers and vote "no." See KillTheMapsTax.com for more information.
"Porter Davis, Oklahoma City
Davis, a former Republican representative in the state Legislature, is the spokesman for Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance, an umbrella group facilitating the KillTheMapsTax.com grassroots effort.