E-tax campaign threatens KC's future
The campaign to destroy Kansas City’s earnings tax, reduce basic city services, harm regional cooperation and boost other taxes on residents has claimed its first unwelcome victory.
St. Louis multimillionaire ideologue Rex Sinquefield spent $6.8 million to gather enough signatures to place the future of the earnings tax on the statewide ballot this fall. He wants voters to approve a plan that would give Kansas City and St. Louis residents the ability to kill their earnings taxes in 2011.
Missouri voters ought to rebuff Sinquefield’s attempt to micromanage the finances of the state’s two largest cities — and its two largest generators of economic activity. Among the reasons:
- Sinquefield and other tax opponents have not produced one shred of proof that Kansas City can find better ways to provide $200 million a year.
The city uses much of the 1 percent tax on payroll earnings for police and fire protection, weekly garbage collection and a host of neighborhood services. No one has done the difficult work to prove the city can slash its spending even more drastically.
The earnings tax is an excellent way to spread the burden among this region’s residents — including tens of thousands of Kansans — to provide vital city services as well as amenities such as the zoo and Liberty Memorial.
Eliminating the earnings tax would drain $10 million a year from certain local projects, such as public parking garages on the Country Club Plaza, in which the earnings tax has been used to help finance those projects. That could threaten the viability of economic development in the city.
Voters in both cities, their suburbs and in rural Missouri should reject this bald-faced attempt to eliminate funding that, in particular, has helped Kansas City remain a vibrant city. Another offensive idea that fortunately failed to qualify for a statewide vote was a call to select all of the state’s judges through partisan elections.
The failed petition drive was the latest and most drastic attempt to do away with the Missouri Plan — a nonpartisan judicial selection system that has been modeled by states nationwide. Judges are nominated by a commission and selected by the governor, freeing judges from having to raise money from campaign contributors.
No one can point to an instance in which the current selection process has failed to produce quality judges for Missouri. It would be nice if the failure of the petition drive would put the matter to rest. Sadly, organizers already are pledging to try again.