Ninety miles and a dozen years of civic progress separate Oklahoma City from Tulsa. The distance won't change but Tulsa is catching up on the progress. That's a good thing!
On Nov. 6, Tulsa County voters will be choosing more than a president and a congressman. They'll vote on extending a sales tax that began with the Vision 2025 initiative in 2003. “Vision 2” is the moniker for a tax extension to pay for economic development and quality-of-life improvements. The 2003 vote, creating a six-tenths-of-a-cent sales tax for 13 years, brought Tulsa an outstanding arena (BOK Center), among other projects.
With passage of three capital improvements projects, styled as MAPS, MAPS for Kids and MAPS 3, Oklahoma City gained ground on Tulsa. This was a clarion call for Tulsa leaders to come up with a plan of their own. Unlike in Oklahoma City, the Tulsa initiatives are countywide. The sales tax rate is lower (MAPS levies a 1-cent tax) but the term is longer — about twice as lengthy as MAPS.
Proposition 1, valued at $386.88 million, would buy improvements for an industrial complex designed to keep an American Airlines maintenance center. Proposition 2 would build a juvenile justice facility, upgrade the fairgrounds, improve Arkansas River levees and finance other projects. Nine Tulsa suburbs would get a share of the cash, ranging from $600,000 for Sperry to $44.1 million for Broken Arrow.
Tulsa's prosperity is good for the state and thus good for its capital city. Some rivalries will remain and Oklahoma City leaders should take note that Proposition 1 includes a $52.94 million fund that will help the city close deals with prospective businesses.
What Oklahoma City did with its MAPS initiatives was an inspiration for Tulsa. What Tulsa has done with Vision 2025 is inspirational as well. We wish Tulsa leaders success in convincing voters to keep a good thing going.