YOUR OPINION: Watch out for Proposition A

Dear Editor:

Think carefully about Proposition A. The proposal would forbid earnings taxes in any Missouri communities that currently have none. But remember: according to Missouri law only St. Louis, Kansas City, and St. Joseph have the legal authority to establish such a tax. Moreover, should the Legislature give other communities that power, the consent of local voters is required as a result of the Hancock Amendment, passed by voters in 1980.

The proposal also requires that voters in the two Missouri cities that have earnings taxes — St. Louis and Kansas City — vote in a referendum every five years to decide whether to keep those taxes. A no vote in such elections will be irrevocable.

Consider the consequences:

  1. Earnings taxes supply 32 percent and 40 percent of the revenue for St. Louis and Kansas City respectively. To remove that amount of revenue with no plan for replacement could make those cities dangerous and unlivable because they will be unable to provide adequate police and fire protection, maintenance of streets, snow removal, and so on. Who would want to live in, work in, or visit those cities under such circumstances?
  2. The ratings of municipal bonds of those cities could plummet in view of the fact that every five years their voters are asked whether or not to put their cities’ revenue streams in jeopardy. Who would want to make a long-term investment in those cities under such circumstances?

So, as I see on TV slick advertisements for Proposition A where we are told that the intent of the proposal is simply to “let voters decide,” I can only hope enough of us will all be smart enough to see beyond that slogan to imagine what could really happen in our state — and to our state — if this proposal should become law.

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