OUR OPINION: Let ‘local’ voters decide; defeat statewide Proposition A

As seasonal costumes go, Proposition A has been wrapped in the slogan “Let Voters Decide.”

Despite its appealing facade, removing the disguise reveals the reality of the measure on Tuesday’s statewide ballot.

The proposal focuses on earning taxes, which now are collected only in Missouri’s two largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City. Their earnings taxes are a 1 percent additional tax on people who live in, or work in, those cities.

If approved statewide, Proposition A would require voters in those cities to vote next spring on whether to continue the tax.

Local approval would sunset every five years and require subsequent elections. If local voters reject the tax at any time, it would be eliminated through a 10-year phase out.

In addition, approval of the proposition would prohibit all other Missouri cities from considering an earnings tax.

Our objections to Proposition A include:

  • This is not a statewide issue. Any action concerning local earnings taxes should be determined exclusively at the local level. Residents of both cities have access to the initiative process, just as Jefferson City residents submitted a local issue — a smoke-free ordinance — to a local vote.

  • No provisions have been made to offset lost revenue. In St. Louis, the earnings tax generates $140 million, about one-third of its general fund. In Kansas City, the $200 million from the tax represents about 39 percent of its general fund.

  • The campaign promoting this issue largely is financed by one person, Rex Sinquefield. Although the effort may meet legal requirements, it does not jibe with the spirit of the initiative process.

We’re not defending the earnings tax; we’re championing the concept of local decision-making. We wouldn’t want a metropolis telling us how to operate. Why should we weigh in on local earnings taxes that could cripple operations in St. Louis and Kansas City. Vote “no” on Proposition A.

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