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Proposition A Mimics Hancock Amendment


Kansas City, MO – Anyone who watches local TV has seen the ads that say, ""Vote yes on A. Let voters decide."

The TV ads are financed by St. Louis millionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has reportedly invested about five million dollars in the campaign. They emphasize giving voters a say and prohibiting "politicians" from imposing taxes on earnings in other Missouri cities.

Woody Cozad, local spokesman for the Proposition A campaign approaches the issue from the angle of acountability. He says this will be the "first the first time at city hall that they've come out and tell you what they have been doing with the money and if, uh, you will continue to give them that money, what they will do with it in the future."

Cozad says it shouldn't be voters' responsibility to go on line and read the budget or watch a program: the city should mount a campaign to inform them... and propose spending the public will approve.

He also framed his view of the debate should Proposition A pass and require a vote. Cozad says, "There's evidence that having an earnings tax discourages the growth and establishment of new business, on the one hand. On the other hand, you've heard the... what I regard as scare tactics, exaggerated, but nonetheless... you've heard the story that, 'Look, if we do this, here's how many dollars of revenue we would lose if it were repealed, and so on.'

Councilman Ed Ford tells the city's side of the story. He calls Proposition A "a potential disaster for Kansas City: "I say "potential"... because Kansas City voters would still have the opportunity in April to Keep the E-Tax. But the problem with that is we'd have to have votes every five years, and that would make it very difficult to do any long-range planning, any bonding of projects."

Ford says if Proposition A passes and in April voters should decide not to keep the E-Tax it would be very hard to replace the 200 million dollars or so a year the city gets from its combined business and personal earnings taxes. That's more than a third of the city's local tax income.

Ford explained why he beileves that; "Right now you have the E-Tax, which is paid about 40 percent by non-residents. And then to go b ack to residents of Kansas City to ask them to make that up - for a tax that only applies to them - would be a tough sell."

The most often questioned part of the Proposition A ads is the section that says, "Under current law, the politicians can authorize new earnings taxes in other Missouri cities and towns. Prop A lets voters prohibit new earnings taxes."
,br>The ad doesn't mention that all new taxes must already go to the voters.

Prop A spokesman Cozad admitted that the Missouri Hancock Amendment would require a public vote on any new local tax proposal, adding," If Proposition A were to pass, they would have to do what we are doing, which is get the law changed.'

That means Proposition A would prohibit future earnings taxes even being voted on. Voters are already protected from having a new e-tax imposed without a vote - by the Hancock Amendment.

But even a community where Proposition A did not pass could not create even a small tax on earnings.

Proposition A would, as the ads imply force a vote on existing earnings taxes. Kansas City voters have approved the E-Tax three times - in 1963, in 1970, and in 2006 as part of the revised city charter.

As in those elections, dissatisfied suburbanites would not be able to vote.


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