© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

KC Tenants leader says 'regressive' tax ask from billionaire owners motivated opposition

A "Vote No" KC Tenants flag was unfurled at Kauffman Stadium during the Royals' Opening Day game against the Minnesota Twins.
KC Tenants
A "Vote No" KC Tenants flag was unfurled at Kauffman Stadium during the Royals' Opening Day game against the Minnesota Twins.

Voters in Jackson County voted by nearly a three to two margin to oppose the Royals and Chiefs' 3/8th-cent stadium sales tax extension. KC Tenants, the citywide tenants union in Kansas City, played a big role in the "vote no" campaign.

Voters in Jackson County resoundingly voted down a 3/8th-cent sales tax extension that would have funded Arrowhead Stadium renovations and a new Royals ballpark in the Crossroads neighborhood of Kansas City.

The influential citywide tenants union, KC Tenants, was a big part of the push against the tax in the weeks and months leading up to the election. They, along with their allies on this issue, won despite being vastly outspent by the "vote yes" campaign.

The organization's director, Tara Raghuveer, believes that sales taxes as a funding mechanism are regressive.

"They always have been, they always will be," she told KCUR's Up To Date.

"They cost more as a share of income for the poorest people than they do the richest. So, people who are bussing tables in Kansas City are paying a greater share of their income than wealthy people like John Sherman. We don't believe that's right, and we fight regressive taxes when they come up."

Had it passed, the sales tax would have raised $2 billion over 40 years. Raghuveer said that KC Tenants isn’t opposed to a downtown stadium forever, but that Jackson County shouldn’t use taxpayer money to fund it.

"We were calling the question ultimately about who Kansas City is for, and we were calling a question about what public dollars should be used for, and we believe that public dollars should be used for public goods," Raghuveer said.

Raghuveer said the teams failed to convince voters that they needed the money.

"I think there's the capacity to have all of these nice things. And Kansas City wants all of that," she said. "And I think what we need to be diligent about is where we put our public resources because those are relatively scarce."

Raghuveer said it was more than the team's lack of transparency in the stadium planning process that caused KC Tenants to campaign against the tax.

"It's the audacity," she said. "It's the audacity that two billionaire team owners have to tell us what's best for our community."

Raghuveer said KC Tenants is considering putting its own ballot proposal before voters that would fund housing and better public transit.

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.