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Voters in St. Louis, KC agree to keep earnings tax

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Residents in St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., overwhelmingly agreed Tuesday to retain their 1 percent earnings taxes, passing on a significant tax cut but keeping a revenue source that provides a huge chunk of the budget in both of Missouri’s big cities.

Complete but unofficial results show the St. Louis earnings tax passed with 88 percent of the vote, while Kansas City residents favored the tax by a 3-to-1 margin.

The votes were necessary after a statewide ballot proposition that passed in November required a renewal vote every five years on the earnings taxes in both cities. Proposition A also forbids any other Missouri municipality from adopting an earnings tax.

The tax accounts for $140 million, or about one-third, of the St. Louis budget, and $200 million, about two-fifths, of Kansas City’s.

“I was confident that the people of St. Louis would do the right thing for the future of the city if they were armed with the facts,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said. “Regardless of what anyone thought of the earnings tax, it would have been irresponsible to get rid of it without a viable alternative to replace it.”

There was no organized opposition in St. Louis.

In Kansas City, Mayor-elect Sly James said it was clear the city’s residents recognized the importance of the tax.

“It means that this city is going to continue to try and become as efficient as possible, but we’re not going to have to do it with one hand tied behind our backs,” he said.

City officials said turnout was low, although they did not have an estimate. In St. Louis, turnout was estimated at 10 percent to 12 percent.

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