But I know this, too: You want this cleared up with facts, not opinions. And that’s the way it’s gonna be.

Dragnet – September 21, 1967

I suppose we should be used to it by now.  We have been subjected to IT from Washington for a very long time, but it’s really been turned into an art form in the last 24 months or so.  What is “IT”?  “IT” is the seeming inability of liberal, big government supporters to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Usually we see half-truths, well not even half-truths.  Liberals can’t seem to bring themselves to include more than a kernel of truth if that in what they use to spin their web of deceit and confusion. We see it here in Missouri, particularly by opponents of Proposition A – Let Voters Decide.

Any measure that seeks to put the citizens, taxpayers, in a position to place checks and balances on their elected officials will bring the liberal spinners out of the woodwork to tell us how the world will cease to function.  The Missouri Budget Project, oft quoted and seldom, if ever, correct liberal “think” (antithetical) tank typifies the liberal spin.

Today, we are going to expose the falsehoods they and the other opponents of Let Voters Decide are using to deceive and confuse voters about what Proposition A really does. We don’t have the space to debunk all the falsehoods but here are some recurring themes.

MBP Falsehood #1: If Prop A passes we lose local control over how to raise revenues to support towns and cities.

Truth: Proposition A eliminates no local control options in existence today.

  • Proposition A changes no local authority or local control in place on November 2, 2010.
  • Proposition A does not eliminate any existing authorized taxing authority with one exception, St Joseph. St Joseph is authorized to have an earnings tax. The people of St Joseph have rejected the earnings tax on several occasions. Proposition A will merely underscore the people of St Joseph’s choice on the earnings tax – not to have one.
  • Proposition A does not eliminate any revenue source for any town or city that exists today.

MBP Falsehood#2: The budgets of Kansas City and St. Louis will be devastated, and we may lose critical public safety and valuable public services.

TRUTH: Proposition A makes absolutely NO CHANGES to the earnings tax in Kansas City or St Louis.

  • Proposition A lets the voters decide in those cities whether to retain the earnings tax beginning at the municipal election in April 2011 and every 5 years thereafter.
  • Proposition A provides for a 10 year phase out of the earnings tax if the voters decide to eliminate it.
  • A 368 page report of alternatives to replacing the earnings tax exists in St Louis and a similar study should be done in Kansas City.

MBP Falsehood #3: There is no good solution to replace the earnings tax. The only way our cities could replace Earnings Tax revenues would be by raising sales and property taxes.

TRUTH: Proposition A does not eliminate any earnings tax in existence today.

  • As stated above, there is a 368 page report of alternatives to replacing the earnings tax exists in St Louis.
  • The study should be updated for St Louis and a similar study should be done in Kansas City.
  • The scare tactic of “higher sales and property taxes” is just that, a scare tactic.

Faslehood #4: Kansas City and St Louis will never be able to issue bonds again.

TRUTH: Proposition A has no impact on bond ratings.

  • Should the voters decide to eliminate the earnings tax in any election beginning in April 2011 or any election every 5 years thereafter, the ability to issue bonds will remain unchanged.
  • What will change is the ability of both cities to issue bonds without first getting the approval of the voters.
  • The earnings tax provides a way to get around the voters and issue bonds without their approval.

The Missouri Record reports this on their blog today regarding bonding:

I decided to do the unthinkable, or at least the apparently unthought.  I called some bond sellers in Kansas City. Joey McLiney of McLiney and Company, whose family has been in the industry since 1928, said the claim that Kansas City could no longer offer bonds if the earnings tax is repealed is “ridiculous.”

In the multitude of cities without an earnings tax, McLiney explained, the city leadership go to voters with a bond proposal, usually borrowing money to be paid back with an increased sales tax, or fee, or some other source of revenue.  Even Kansas City has issued bonds this way.

What the earnings tax allows, however, is for city officials to issue bonds against that revenue without voter approval.  “What [the earnings tax] really does is give them free reign to do whatever projects they choose, not the projects that [voters] choose,” McLiney explained.

So repealing the earnings tax won’t stop a city’s ability to issue bonds.  It just curtails the power of city officials.  Sounds like a win-win scenario.

The opponents of Proposition A – Let Voters Decide can be placed primarily in several groupings:

In regards to the last point, Mayor Jim O’Neal of Springfield stated in his opposition to Proposition A that an earnings tax had not been discussed in Springfield during the time he has been in and out of government since the late 1980s. He must have missed this commentary by Evelyn Honea, the Deputy City Manager in Springfield at the time, which was printed in the Springfield News-Leader on April 14, 2008:

Suggestions for an earnings tax have been submitted and it is certainly worthy of study as a new source of revenue for the general fund; however, the state legislature would have to enact legislation that would allow Springfield to ask voters to approve such a tax before it could be enacted.

Not only has an earnings tax been suggested, it was even submitted as a potential revenue source in Springfield, contrary to the Mayor’s statement. The commentary also rightfully dispels the fact that Springfield or any other city has “local control” over the issue.  An earnings tax requires a state authorization before locals can even submit it to voters.  There is no “local control” to defend Mr. Mayor! I recommend the Mayor read Proposition A – Let Voters Decide: A Local Government Primer.

The opponents of Proposition A try to scare people into voting against letting voters have their say.  Voters should be scared, but not of Proposition A. They should be scared of those who want to keep an onerous, job killing tax in place and who want to be able to bring it to a town or city near you!

Most people I speak with think it is a good idea to Let Voters Decide!