Kansas City Mayor Sly James kicked off the city campaign to renew the earnings tax with a warning, its end could harm the city’s public safety.
“Over the next 10 years, if we have to abandon this tax by a vote, we wlil have to start shaving people very quickly,” the Mayor predicted.
He estimated 800 police officers could be laid off during the 10 year phase out of the earnings tax.
He added about 500 firefighters and emergency medical technicians would be let go as well.
James repeated the often heard figures that the earnings tax makes generates more than $230 million dollars each year for Kansas City. That is 40% of the city’s main operating budget.
Much of that main operating budget, says the mayor, goes to support the police and fire departments.
“I don’t think this mayor or city council would vote to cut public safety spending. I think if you put the question to them, clearly they would day ‘ no ‘,” countered Patrick Tuohey of the Show Me Institute, a critic of the earnings tax.
This Missouri legislature changed the states earnings tax law six years ago.
The change requires Kansas City and St. Louis to ask voters to renew the earnings tax every five years.
78% of the 2011 Kansas City voters supported the earnings tax at that election.
Mayor James says forces in Jefferson City are trying to eliminate the earnings tax in Kansas City and St. Louis for their own political gain.
State Senator Kurt Schaefer has proposed a bill that would abolish the earnings tax immediately. He does not think the tax could stand up in court after a recent US Supreme Court ruling involving a Maryland earnings tax.
Schaefer’s bill, however, is not directly tied to the earning tax renewal vote.
The election is April 5.