E-tax critics don't understand simple math
As long as critics of the earnings tax don’t understand simple math, how seriously can you take them?
Prompted by my sending information to them, the opponents issued a press release Thursday that - what a surprise - misses the point of what the facts are telling them.
Earlier this week the critics claimed the e-tax revenues had fallen by millions of dollars, from around $200 million a year to the mid-$180 million mark.
I pointed out to them that, actually, the city now reports the e-tax revenues more openly to the public. The city still shows that the e-tax is bringing in $200 million annually. But the budget shows that about $16 million is spent on publicly subsidized projects, per votes by the City Council.
I also pointed out exactly how much money from the total of $200 million went to the police and fire, or about $107 million.
So on Thursday, the critics are out with this nonsense:
This week, the city admitted that the entire $200 million does not go to police and firefighters. In fact, some $16 million is skimmed off the top and sent to something called “tax increment redirection”. In other words, taxpayer money sent to prop up bad deals the city made on tax incentives.
Actually, no, the city has never claimed the entire amount goes to fire and police. In fact, though, the great majority of the money does go there.
Oh, and the tax increment redirection money does not go to “prop up bad deals” in a great majority of cases. In fact, most of the money is in deals that are paying their own way (the Power & Light District being the biggest exception).
But my mathematically challenged friends weren’t done.
In fact, $107 million would be needed to keep the police and fire budgets at their current levels… Consider that in the last 10 years, the City’s budget has increased by 800 million dollars.
Uh, no, the city budget hasn’t gone up by anything close to $800 million in 10 years. I know; I’ve been writing about the budget for almost 25 years. The total is only $1.25 billion right now - and the general fund is only $500 million. That’s where the earnings tax revenue flows right now.
So here comes the money quote from spokesman Woody Cozad, who - of course - knows he’s not playing with a full deck of facts here:
“Its appalling that our city leaders cannot find $107 million over a 10 year period.”
Gee, it would be great, Woody, if that was all the city had to find.
But you’d also need to find another $93 million to fund the parks and recreation department, the public works department, the finance department, the health department, the law department, the TIF projects and other city agencies that receive a good share of funds from the earnings tax.
Again, I know this is more of a game for Woody and my friends at kctaxreform.com. They are slinging little rocks at the earnings tax, rocks that often simply aren’t factual.
Or, when they are (Ex: police and fire get $107 million of e-tax money), the opponents go off in a direction that simply shows they don’t want to debate the real facts about the tax and how ending it could affect the city.