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

Sly Says It’s About Public Safety
January 25, 2016

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.

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

James Warns if ” Chilling Impact” if Hotel Deal Delayed by Vote
October 26, 2015

Kansas City Mayor Sly James says backing out of the current deal for a downtown convention hotel would have a “chilling impact” on future business deals in the city.

James made that comment as a Council committee voted 4-0 not to repeal convention hotel deals the city agreed to earlier this year.

A group of hotel deal critics have gathered enough signatures to force a city wide vote on the hotel project.

City Attorney Bill Geary, however says that hotel vote petition is not legal because it is trying to force the city to breach legal contracts it has signed with the developers.

“You do have the absolute right to push for legal vote. But you do not have the right to do it this way,” Geary told a Council committee.

Opponents were not surprised.

“About probably what we expected, Coffey said.
“But, you know, they’re going to push it,” he added.

Geary was asked what the city’s legal exposure might be if the city backed away from the deal it agreed to this city.

He said he figured it would be about $250,000 and no new hotel.

That’s when the mayor added it would have a long impact on future business deals.

The city has pledged about $40 million dollars to the project, estimated at around $311 million dollars.

The city says it included has strict limitation on its financial committment to the hotel project.

The Council has until November 30 to decide what to do with the petition calling for a city vote on the project.