Voters Win Another Battle Against Big Government Knows Best Crowd

The opponents of letting voters decide on whether earnings taxes should be prohibited for all cities that do not currently have one and requiring that Kansas City and St. Louis voters be given the opportunity to vote whether to retain the current earnings tax every five years have lost yet another battle!

Yesterday in the 19th Judicial Circuit Court (Cole County), Kansas City lost in its attempt to block Proposition A, Let Voters Decide, from being on the November ballot. Judge Jon E. Beetem presided over the trial.

The plaintiffs made four specific claims against letting voters decide. Judge Beetem decided in favor of the defendant, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, and the intervenors on  two of the claims, those which directly dealt with whether the proposition should remain on the ballot. He deferred judgment on the other two counts to a later date.  Absentee voting begins today.

The court case smoked out into the open several issues heretofore under the surface. None of them will surprise anyone who understands that government, once drunk on public funds, will do most anything to keep their supply flowing and protect future shots.

For example, the fact that the Kansas City City Attorney represented the plaintiffs, public employees or public employee union representatives filing as private individuals, resulted in spending public money for private purposes and seems to be a blatant disregard for the law prohibiting such expenditures. It demonstrates desperation on behalf of Kansas City as well as a blatant contempt for the voters of the city.

Plaintiff Pat Dujakovich, Kansas City Fire Department Battalion Chief, Kansas City Fire Fighters Pension Board Trustee, Kansas City Missouri Deferred Compensation Retirement Plan Trustee, and Missouri Employees Health Insurance Board Trustee suing in his capacity as “private citizen” is willing to “go to the wall” on trying to stop letting the voters decide.  Since the taxpayers of Kansas City are apparently paying for his lawsuit, we can understand why he is so anxious to spend whatever it takes to keep the voters from deciding the issue.

He claims that citizens of “Harrisonville…” and other cities will be making the decision to eliminate the earnings tax.  This is a common, and I believe purposeful, misrepresentation often made by the opponents.  Proposition A, Let Voters Decide eliminates no tax in existence today!

In addition to the fact Proposition A, Let Voters Decide doesn’t eliminate any existing taxes, opponents attempt to use scare tactics to persuade voters not to vote for it.  They claim sales or property taxes would have to be raised or other loathsome approaches to “replacing” the earnings tax should voters decide to eliminate it.

Since Proposition A doesn’t eliminate the earnings tax in Kansas City or St Louis, it’s a moot question for November 2nd but perhaps a reasonable one for April 2011 when voters in Kansas City and St Louis will be able to have their say for the first time in decades.  The opposition scare tactics are exposed when you consider that there are lots of alternatives short of increased taxation.

The Missouri Council for a Better Economy provides an example of alternatives for St Louis in this study. If a similar study were done of Kansas City, it is extremely likely that alternatives to the “end of the world as we know it” scenario being painted by opponents of Proposition A would be revealed.

The opponents of Proposition A, Let Voters Decide also misrepresent the amount the earnings tax in each city contributes to the budget.  A study of the true impact on each city’s budget and comparison to other cities can be found here.

It’s also been reported that the Missouri Municipal League voted to oppose Proposition A.  This should demonstrate to voters outside Kansas City and St Louis that they should be concerned about the potential of an earnings tax sometime in their future.  The only reason for the Missouri Municipal League to oppose Let Voters Decide is to protect that possible revenue source in the future.  They won’t give that answer to you but you can count on it being the underlying reason despite any public pronouncement to the contrary!

The interesting thing is that Proposition A, Let Voters Decide is a statutory provision.  It can be changed by a future legislature.  The obvious question is, “Then why the opposition?”

The answer is very simple. The legislature is very reluctant to change things on which the voters have clearly spoken.  The opponents of Proposition A, Let Voters Decide know that if the voters accept the fact that earnings taxes are counterproductive to true economic growth, and they are, than getting the legislature to change the statute in the future will be very difficult, if not impossible.

I can understand the concern of the opponents to Proposition A, Let Voters Decide.  With well over 200,000 signatures in support of placing the issue on the ballot, exceeding the required number by more than 2x, it’s apparent that when the voters are given the accurate information, they are willing to support true economic reform.  But the cold reality for governments everywhere is that the voters trust themselves more than they do their government at any level.

Carl Bearden
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