Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the Oklahoma Municipal League filed a brief on Monday arguing against the proposed 1-cent sales tax for education in Oklahoma.
In October, a group calling itself “Oklahoma’s Children, Our Future” began an initiative to raise $615 million for education through a penny sales tax increase. The highest-profile supporter of the increase is OU President David Boren.
If the initiative is approved and the group gathers 123,000 signatures, voters would decide the issue in November of 2016.
The OCPA Impact, part of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, filed a challenge to the initiative on November 12 with the Oklahoma Supreme Court, arguing the initiative violates Oklahoma's rule that requires only one subject per petition.
On December 7, 2015, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the Oklahoma Municipal League filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that raising the state sales tax would hurt towns and cities across Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Municipal League represents 400 cities and municipalities. It argues in the brief that the sales tax increase would burden Oklahoma taxpayers and businesses while failing to deliver on its promise to fund public education reform.
The brief says Oklahoma is the only state where cities and towns do not receive ad valorem for general operations. As a result, the brief argues, Oklahoma cities and towns depend on local sales taxes to fund almost all of their services, including police and fire protections and roads and parks.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on December 16, 2015.