Tulsa County GOP 2013 platform on river tax proposal, Vision extension

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The last time the Tulsa County Republican Party approved a platform was at its 2013 convention. The platform included 13 "planks" (resolutions) dealing with local government, and many of them are applicable to the upcoming Vision Dam Tax vote on April 5, 2016:

3. We believe that public safety - police and fire protection - should be a priority in the city budget, using existing sources of revenue. We oppose a special tax increase to fund public safety.

4. We oppose any tax increase without demonstrated public need. We believe County government should fund its function through property tax, leaving sales tax for municipal functions.

8. We oppose any sales tax, either municipal or county, levied for river development.

As part of the quadrennial series of conventions, the platform committee of the Tulsa County Republican Convention began meeting this last Saturday, and I am a member of the committee. When I arrived, I was surprised to discover I had been assigned to the education committee, and that there was no committee assigned to handle local issues. When I asked specifically which committee would be dealing with planks relating to the river tax vote, I was not given an answer. I know for a fact that at least one precinct submitted resolutions relating to the tax hike proposal.

I was told that the process would not be removing planks from the previous platform but only adding those sent forward by the precinct caucuses. That should mean that the above planks, plus those from this year specifically addressing the Vision Dam Tax vote should make their way into the final document.

But there is a new practice that could be used to keep the Tulsa County GOP from taking a clear stand. Subcommittees are allowed to pull planks out of their section if they call for specific legislative action. These removed planks would be placed in a "legislative action document" to be sent to legislative leaders for their consideration. I was given mixed signals about whether this document would be considered as part of the platform as published and whether it would be available to the general public. This new document has the potential for being used as a pretext for pulling anti-Dam-Tax resolutions out of the platform. Beyond that specific concern, this new approach seems to reduce the platform to a grab-bag of suggestions, rather than the party grassroots speaking collectively on issues of concern. This new approach was not brought before the platform committee for debate or approval.

The picture will be clearer after next week's platform committee meeting, in which the whole committee will consider the entire document. If grassroots sentiment about the Vision Dam Tax is shunted out of the platform, under whatever pretext, you can expect a effort to add it in to the platform from the floor of the county convention. And if that grassroots effort is blocked by new rules, that simple vote could turn into a messy floor fight.

I'm proceeding on the assumption that these novel practices are all well-intentioned, if susceptible to misuse, so I'm not jumping to any conclusions. But I do remember back in 2003, when county party leadership was under heavy pressure to block any official statement from the executive committee in opposition to the Vision 2025 tax plan. This year, with the County Convention happening during the month before the Vision Dam Tax vote, the largest gathering of grassroots Republicans presents an ideal opportunity for the party to speak credibly and to be heard.

MORE:

Here are the resolutions submitted by our precinct regarding the Vision Dam Tax.

  • We oppose any use of taxes or bonds to fund dams in the Arkansas River. We urge Tulsa voters to go to the polls on April 5, 2016, to defeat the proposed sales tax for Arkansas River dams.
  • We oppose any attempt to logroll recreational and "economic development" projects with public safety and transportation projects in sales tax and bond issue elections. For example, we oppose including Arkansas River dam construction in the same ballot item as levee repair. We urge Tulsa voters to go to the polls on April 5, 2016, to defeat the proposed sales tax.
  • We oppose the use of sales tax and use tax revenue bonds for advance funding for local capital improvements. City and county capital improvements should be built on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • We oppose any renewal of the Vision 2025 sales tax at any level of government.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 21, 2016 6:24 PM.

April 5, 2016, Vision Tax / River Tax ballot resolutions was the previous entry in this blog.

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