KC Star: Stuff vindictive Missouri legislative threat against Kansas City’s e-tax

"Missouri’s GOP lawmakers have an uncomfortable habit of trying to squash local initiatives."

The Kansas City Star editorial board wrote a scathing take down of threats levied against the city by the Missouri Legislature to ban KC's earnings tax.

After a session of intern-related scandals and continued inaction on issues like highway funding, the Missouri General Assembly hardly seems qualified to micromanage the affairs of the state’s largest city.

But a cabal of lawmakers is threatening to retaliate for a Kansas City ordinance enacting a minimum wage increase by terminating the 1 percent earnings tax used to provide services such as police and fire protection.

Backlash for a minimum wage increase

Earlier this summer, Kansas City celebrated a victory when the City Council voted to raise minimum wage. An effort that had to be pushed quickly because of a law passed by the legislature banning local control on certain workplace regulations. Gov. Nixon has since vetoed the bill (HB 722) that is wildly unpopular, but it is at risk of being overturned during this September's veto session.

Leading the vindictive charge is Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia).

In a letter to other senators, Schaefer, who often wanders into uninformed, near-hysterical verbiage, wrote that local minimum wage increases would “cause a tremendous amount of damage to our state’s economy.”

The only way to undo the damage and protect local businesses, he wrote, is for the legislature to eliminate the earnings taxes enacted in Kansas City and St. Louis with the authority of local voters.

For starters, there is no conclusive evidence that sensible minimum wage increases harm a region’s economy. Many studies show that regions fare better economically when workers have more money to spend.

Then there’s the question of how Missouri’s economy would be aided by blowing a $200 million hole in Kansas City’s budget, leaving it unable to adequately provide basic services.

While Schaefer’s idea appears to have limited support thus far, his position as chairman of the Senate appropriations committee gives it some weight. The prospective chairman of the House budget committee also says retaliation should be “on the table.”

And let's not forget about Rex Sinquefield...

Sinquefield’s abhorrence of the earnings tax is the reason Kansas Citians must vote to renew the tax every five years. He achieved that with a ballot initiative in 2010. What better way for the hyper-ambitious Schaefer to curry favor with the state’s most prolific campaign contributor than to stage an attack on the revenue source?

A statewide ballot for a liveable wage would show Jeff City politicians who really is in charge

State politicians like Schaefer tend to become so full of themselves they forget they are public servants, not dictators. The well-organized citizens’ coalition that supports a liveable wage should remind them who’s really in charge by moving forward with a statewide ballot initiative to substantially raise the minimum wage throughout Missouri.

Read the full Kansas City Star piece here.

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