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OKC Ford Center Vote:
Arguments For and Against the Sales Tax (Mar 03, 2008)

People in Oklahoma City go to the polls today, but the exact nature of what it is they’re voting for or against varies depending upon whom you ask. Though the proposition would fund upgrades to the Ford Center with a penny sales tax, critics have said its wording is vague and confusing, as it fails to mention the Ford Center arena by name. They’ve characterized it as a sales tax increase, while business and political leaders have correctly noted the proposal would not raise taxes if it’s passed; it would just extend the current MAPS For Kids tax set to expire at the end of the year for an additional twelve to fifteen months. Still, if the measure were to fail, Oklahoma City would see a tax cut.

In the second of our reports on today’s highly anticipated vote, we speak to OKC Mayor Mick Cornett, who’s led the charge calling for the tax and resulting renovations in hopes of attracting the Seattle SuperSonics basketball franchise. And we hear from opponent David Glover, who argues the cost to taxpayers is too high.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce is disputing economic figures released by the City Manager’s Office and reported this morning on KGOU. The projection that the average person living in Oklahoma City could expect to pay about $10 per month or $150 during the fifteen months the Ford Center Improvements Sales Tax is in effect (sales tax opponent David Glover did some multiplication and said $600 for a family of four) is inaccurate, as it fails to separate the amount of sales tax paid by businesses from the amount paid by individuals. As we reported last Friday and again this morning, the Mayor’s Office has said it feels breaking down the cost per citizen is an inaccurate way to approach the issue.

Listen to our explanation of how the data got confused: MP3

View video clips and slides of Mayor Cornett’s January presentation before the city council, where he spoke on behalf of the proposed sales tax

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter David Cay Johnston visited Oklahoma City recently on a book tour. He’s the author of Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill). We asked him about a chapter he wrote on public subsidies for sports arenas. Listen to our interview with him: MP3

Listen to coverage of the Ford Center vote on the public radio program “Only a Game”

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