Call Me Stormy

Finding righteous currents in turbulent times

How Tulsa Squared Its Budget

When Mayor Dewey Bartlett took office on December 7, 2009, Tulsa, Oklahoma was in its worst budget crisis since the Great Depression.

“We would have probably had to file for bankruptcy,” Bartlett tells Reason TV. “It certainly got us focused on how to run a government better.”

With a $10 million budget shortfall and employee compensation spiraling out of control, thinkng about layoffs was just the beginning. Bartlett schooled himself about the budget and decided to focus “on things a government really should do and also make a decision on what a government really doesn’t need to do.” He reformed pay for police and firemen, sold unused vehicles and property, and privatized some city services, including the city’s zoo.

Reason TV talked with Bartlett in his office to talk about how to balance a city’s budget without raising taxes.

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