Two Reasons Vision2 Failed in Tulsa County

  • Joe Wertz

There was healthy debate about the merits of Tulsa County’s Vision2 measure, including discussion about taxpayers’ role in “picking and choosing” corporate winners and losers.

But a lot of the reasons cited for the rejection had to do with timing and confusion over the two propositions.

“It was too fast,” opponent and anti-Vision2 organizer Ronda Vuillemont-Smith told the Tulsa World. “(The tax) doesn’t expire until 2017. It was too rushed. It was too sloppy. It was too vague.”

Supporters of Vision2 — an extension of Tulsa County’s Vision 2025 sales tax — said Proposition 1 was needed to modernize city-owned airport facilities used by American Airlines, IC Bus and Spirit AeroSystems. The hurry, supporters like the Tulsa Metro Chamber said, was the prospect that another city (like Wichita, Kan.) would poach the jobs.

The genesis of the proposal was the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings of American Airlines. Government and Tulsa Metro Chamber officials wanted to do something to prevent further job losses at the local maintenance base, the World reports.

Proposition2 would have sent $362 to nine communities in Tulsa County for quality-of-life projects. City leaders were excited. Projects, like improvements along the Arkansas River, were identified, and cities passed resolutions on what to spend Vision2 money on if the measure was approved.

But Proposition 2 failed, too.

Supporters had a hard time selling Vision2’s urgency to voters, who didn’t understand the rush. Other voters simply may have had a hard time understanding the measure itself.

“I consider myself to be a fairly well-educated and well prepared voter, and I found it difficult to differentiate, based on the wording of Props 1 & 2 on the ballot, which one was intended to fund quality of life improvements and which was intended to improve the airport industrial complex,” Sarah Laflin Kin writes on StateImpact Oklahoma’s Facebook page.

The Vision2 ballot measures (like most) were wordy:

And — as Kin points out — the wording of both propositions include a word and concept many Oklahoma voters find unappealing: taxation. Confusion + mention of taxation = ‘no’ vote to many Oklahomans, Kin writes:

“I understand that, in the interest of impartiality, the wording on Prop 2 could never have been ‘This is an extension of the existing Vision 2025 sales tax levy that will fund supercool projects like the Tulsa Children’s Museum and will build a sweet new habitat for the lions at the Tulsa Zoo,’ but in a state and a political climate where taxation is viewed as a form of socialism (or slavery), the wording as it appeared on the ballot had a definite lack of appeal for an undecided or ininformed voter.”