KC Dropped From E-Tax Abolition Bill
January 28, 2016

Kansas City Mayor Sly James says it was surprised Kansas City was removed from a bill aimed at eliminating the earnings tax in Kansas City and St. Louis.
A Senate substitute for the bill now calling for the earnings tax in St. Louis to be phased out over 10 years.

The tax generates about $162 million dollars ayear for the city, according to Mayor Francis Slay’s office. That is about 33% of the St. Louis City budget.

The mayor said in a statement Thursday he does not think the revised bill will survive.

State Senator Kurt Schaefer pushed the bill. He said the earnings tax was vulnerable because the US Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Maryland.

Kansas City officials argued its law was legally sound. They told a State Senate hearing the kansas City earning tax contained a provison to allow for tax credits. That prevents non-residents from being double taxed on the 1% tax; and keep it legal.

Meanwhile Kansas City’s Mayor used a news conference to expand on a fued with state lawmakers.

“The issue of local control is an on-going issue with the state legislature,” James said.

He has been very critical of state attempts to make access to guns easier. He think it hurts crime fighting efforts in the city.

Another issue is control of the municipal courts.

Just Thursday, the Missouri Senate passed a bill limiting municipal courts ability to assess fines.

The measure limits fine to $200 for minor traffic violations and local ordinances.

Kansas City is concerned a limit like that may affect is ability to enforce housing codes.

“What I said t them when I was down there was, I’m not asking for a penny. All I am asking you is to leave us alone. I am still on that same note,” ,James said Thursday.

Kansas City will still have an April 5 vote to renew its earnings tax. That is required by state law

Lawmakers & Nixon Arguing About Budget Estimates Again
January 25, 2016

(AP) – Republican lawmakers are raising concerns about Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s request to add almost half a billion dollars more to this year’s budget.
Budget officials said Medicaid accounted for about three-quarters of the budget request. Some senators asked how earlier estimates had been short by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Department of Social Services Director Brian Kinkade said more people had signed up for Medicaid than expected, and hospital visits and drug prices had increased.
Appropriation committee chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer said this was the largest mid-year budget addition he’s ever seen. He says budget additions have become routine and are being used to increase Medicaid spending without public discussion.
Nixon is asking to add $496 million to the $26 billion budget that ends June 30.

James Expands E- Tax Defense
January 18, 2016

Kansas City Mayor Sly James expended his defense of the Kansas City earnings tax Sunday.

He also stepped up his attacks on its critics.

At a Sunday speech at the All Soul Universalist Church James dedicated a big portion of his speech to the earnings tax.

Last Thursday the mayor lead a delegation of Kansas Citians to a Jefferson City state senate hearing on a bill to eliminate the earnings tax.

“We wanted everybody who came down there to tell them how stupid of an idea it was for them to interfere with what we’re doing,” James said during the Sunday speech.

He continued to focus on the impact of the earnings tax on Kansas City’s main operating budget.

James says losing 40% of the general fund money could lead to police and fire lay-offs.

Ritual a say the city would find a way to a pod that.

The earnings tax generates $238 million of the city’s $533 million dollar General Fund.

He told state lawmakers losing the earnings tax would force the city to try to triple the property tax and double the sales tax.

In Sunday’s speech he says the city had looked at replacing the earnings tax funds.

James says they could also replace all of the money if they raised seven difference taxes.

James also accused state legislators of trying to sneak the earnings tax hearings by the city.

It was quietly set for 8:30 in the morning on the finals workday of the week for the state senate.

He also said bill sponsor Kurt Schaefer has accepted $700,000 in contributions from anti-tax businessman Rex Sinquefiled.
James also says the Chairman of the Committee that heard the bill, Lee’s Summit Republican Will Krause also received $500,00 from Sinquefield.

Schaefer’s bill calling for the elimination of the earnings tax is one of several such measures.

This spring, Kansas City is scheduled for a renewal vote on the earnings tax.

A requirement passed by the legislature several years ago to permit voters to have a say on a tax that has been on the Kansas City books since 1963.

Kansas City Defends Earnings Tax at Jeff City Hearing
January 14, 2016

Kansas City Mayor Sly James urged state lawmakers to “leave us alone” when it comes to the city’s earnings tax.

James led a large delegation of Kansas City civic, business and labor leaders to a Jefferson City hearing on a bill proposing to eliminate the earnings tax of Kansas City and St. Louis.

Mayor James says local voters overwhelming approved renewing the tax 5 years ago and that should mean something to state legislators.

“You certainly ask the federal government to leave you alone. And yet you turn right around and act like the federal government to the cities,” James said.

Columbia State Senator Kurt Schaefer called his bill to eliminate the earnings taxes in both cities, a means to start a conversation.

“As Jackie Gleason says in ‘Smokey and the Bandit’, “this is an attention getter,” Schaefer said.

He said the state is involved because state lawmakers authorized the earnings tax for Kansas City and St. Louis in 1948.

He says the state and the two cities should now start working on an earnings tax alternative.

Schaefer predicted that the cities and state would lose a lawsuit challenging the earning tax.

He says that’s because the US Supreme Court struck down a similar earnings tax in Baltimore.

Kansas City’s legal department disagrees with that.

They believe Kansas City’s earnings tax, which permits tax credits for non-Kansas City residents who pay the tax, keeps the local earnings tax legal.

James predicted that sales tax would have to double and property taxes triple if the earnings tax in Kansas City is eliminated.

He also said there would be major layoffs in the police and fire departments.

Kansas City attorney Woody Cozad disagreed with the mayor’s prediction of big lay-offs in the public safety departments.

“In Kansas City we love our cops and we love our firefighters. And we love them so much that if this tax goes away, that is not what the people are going to permit being cut,” he said.

The City says the earnings tax generates about $230 million a year. That’s ios about 40% of the City’s General fund.

The committee took no vote on Schaefer’s bill. Chairman Will Kraus says committee members may work on the plan for a couple of weeks and then decide what to do

Missouri Social Service Defenders Push Back on Budget Cuts
April 13, 2015

Social Service providers across Missouri, including Kansas City, appealed for state lawmakers to drop planned budget cuts to Missouri social service agencies in the upcoming budget.
The Rev. Susan McCann of the Grace Episcopal Church of Liberty says the cuts are “morally irresponsible”.
A group of social services agencies in Kansas City, including Harvesters Food Network, Truman Medical center and the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance, among others, held a news conference Monday morning.
Similar news conferences were held in other parts of the Missouri.
Last week, one of the state’s leading budget writers, Columbia republican Kurt Schaefer pushed a plan that would reduce social services spending by $130 million more than a similar proposal in the House.
“These aren’t cuts being made on the margins. These are cuts in actual services being delivered,” said Traci Gleason of the Missouri Budget Project.
Republican majorities in the house and Senate passed similar measures last year. Governor Jay Nixon, however, vetoed the measures.
This year Republicans may have veto-proof majorities.