Terry Simonson on the economic recovery and the sales tax


The latest Urban Tulsa has a thoughtful column from Terry Simonson about the upcoming sales tax vote. Terry hasn't written much since his run for Mayor last year.

The focus of the column is on Tulsa's economy and what we ought to do about it. A few quotes:

The issue for some is whether or not the direction that is proposed with Vision 2025 will lead to a better future for Tulsa and is it believable enough that its worth paying more taxes for. ...

A one cent increase in sales tax may not sound like a big deal unless you have watched your paycheck get smaller or you fear that soon you may not have a paycheck at all. This backdrop, more than partisanship, is what really must be conquered by the Vision 2025 supporters.

There is plenty of talk that American Airlines is not leaving and Boeing is not coming, only they know for sure. What makes a business come here or stay here? For the big companies, its what stockholders want and how management delivers. It doesn’t matter to a Citgo stockholder in France, Alaska, or Boston what Tulsa is like if Citgo could perform better and give a better return by being Houston. And government can do only so much to impact a business condition significantly enough to influence business decisions. ...

Simonson offers an interesting approach to helping small businesses grow.

Where do most of the jobs come from in Tulsa? Small business. Who has the greatest difficulty getting the capital necessary to upgrade and expand operations? Small business. Who is likely to fall under the sluggish economy the quickest? Small business. Even though an employee at small businesses may not be making $50,000, more paychecks go into more banks and stores and shops from the small business employee than from any place else.

Perhaps we should have proposed that a small increase in sales tax for a short period of time that would create a capital pool that small business could borrow from and the repayment of these loans would create a sustainable economic development fund that could perpetually help retain and expand small businesses.

NFIB research
shows that small businesses create 2/3rds of net new jobs, and small businesses create nearly all the net new jobs during a recession and the beginning of an expansion -- while big businesses are still finding their feet. I wrote about this back in July.

Terry continues:

Everyone wants new attractions in Tulsa. That was evidenced by the long list of ideas proposed during the revisioning process. Not everyone will agree on how or when we do this. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Vision 2025 supporters in the economic climate of Tulsa (when the future of so many Tulsans grows more uncertain with each passing day) is to convince citizens that a government led recovery, supported by taxpayers’ money, is the only hope we have for a better tomorrow.

History has shown that Tulsans are very discerning voters when it comes to publicly financed projects. It doesn’t seem to matter much to us who does or does not endorse an initiative or how good the commercials are on TV or even who has the most money to spend in a campaign. The message must hit home in terms of identifying a problem on which there is consensus, that the proposed solutions are clearly and simply articulated and explained, and the public feels compelled to support it. When this is missing and voters are undecided, they simply conclude that voting no costs them nothing.

Go read the whole thing.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 21, 2003 11:50 PM.

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