"What’s wrong with this picture,” is one of my newest catch phrases, along with, “What were they thinking?” There are a few others, mostly taken from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” but “42” would not be applicable here.
With less than five days until elections, I have been examining the proposed propositions closely and I am quite concerned. I have already written about Columbia’s Proposition 2 and the proposed Missouri constitutional amendments. Now it is on to Propositions A and B.
So, what is wrong with these pictures, and what were the authors thinking?
Proposition A sounds great until you use your crystal ball to look to the past and future. This is Missouri’s anti-earnings tax proposal, targeted primarily at St. Louis and Kansas City. I see major problems with this proposal and its implications.
First, the proposal wants the cities to “hold a referendum on keeping the levy in 2011 and every five years thereafter.” St. Louis and Kansas City voters already have the right to hold a referendum on their respective earning taxes. Voters just need to petition the election commission. In 60 years, they have not.
Second, Prop A states that if the voters reject the earnings tax, the cities will, “no longer be authorized to impose or levy such earnings tax.” This would place an untenable limitation on the cities’ ability to raise money, initiate future revenue bond and possibly limit city services, including police and fire protection.
Prop A would also limit other Missouri cities from incorporating an earnings tax. Adding taxes, however, is already discussed in the Hancock Amendment. Hancock says, “local government entity may not levy any ‘tax, license or fee’ that was not already in existence at the time the Hancock Amendment was adopted… unless approved by the voters,” per the Missouri Municipal League.
Third, Prop A appears to usurp citizen control over local taxes and give them to the state. Why take away the people’s right to determine their own tax levies?
The state already has control. Today, to incorporate a local earnings tax, a city already has to ask Missouri legislators for permission.
Finally, the proponents for Prop A have raised over $7 million. If you then believe Proposition A has wide spread support, think again. Missouri philanthropist Rex Sinquefield, the originator of this proposal, is also its funding source. According to Ballotpedia.org, as of July, Sinquefield has contributed just over $7 million. What’s wrong with this picture?
My recommendation – Vote “No” on Prop A. It only duplicates laws and takes local taxation control away from the cities.
Proposition B is the “Puppy Mill Initiative.” This is just a badly written law. This does not mean I hate dogs. In fact, the dogs and cats I have owned over the years have all been rescue animals.
Foremost, Prop B will cost the taxpayers “$654,768 (on-going costs of $521,356 and one-time costs of $133,412),” according to the secretary of state's website. Government budgets are already hurting, and there appears to be no provision to cover the one-half million dollar annual expenditures.
Second, the proposal threatens only minor penalties for violation. “The crime of puppy mill cruelty is a class C misdemeanor, unless the defendant has previously pled guilty to or been found guilty of a violation of this section, in which case each such violation is a class A misdemeanor.”
Third, the proposed law will not do what needs to be done: enforcement of current animal breeding laws that closes the illegal puppy mills and increase the number of state inspectors to enforce this proposed law. However, this would mean new taxes which a) the proposal does not raise, and b) cannot happen unless in compliance with Hancock. Your remember Hancock, don’t you?
What were the authors thinking?
Again, my recommendation is to vote “No.”
You do not have to agree with me, and I am sure some will not. I do ask that you do not rely on the commercials and brochures alone. As with the other ballot issues, my responsibility to you is to make sure there is a factual and open conversation. Ask yourself, “Is there something wrong with these pictures?” before you vote next Tuesday.