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Prop B Doesn’t Address The Real Issue

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary by: Jason Rosenbaum
Aired October 29, 2010

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When it comes to canines that you can hold under your arm like a bag, nothing in the world beats Baxter. The maltee-poo may seem like a runty ball of white fuzz, but few animals bring more joy to a room. Whether it’s twirling around a handler like a maypole or asking for a belly rub, Baxter always takes the cake in the realm of cuteness. But Baxter’s life could have turned out differently. He was reportedly taken from a so-called puppy mill, and was apparently in rough shape when he was put up for sale. Thankfully, Baxter found a loving home in the suburbs of Chicago.

Missouri is an epicenter for dog breeders – 1,431 to be exact, according to the Kansas City Star. And that’s caused the animal rights groups to shepherd through a ballot item calling for restrictions on dog breeding.
The campaign manager of the group pushing the ballot item told the Star that the initiative places “animal-welfare” provisions into the “large-scale breeding equations.” The Star also reported that a K.C.-area animal shelter supports the initiative, noting that it deals with the consequences of breeders who run afoul of state regulations.

The folks in favor of the ballot item even enlisted the services of St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. The animal lover manager appeared in an ad, stating that “thousands of dogs” are crammed into “filthy cages” for their entire lives at “large-scale puppy mills.” LaRussa went on to say in the ad that “no responsible pet owner would ever treat an animal like that.” The back-and-forth on this issue has centered on whether the regulations go too far. The Star article noted that some opponents of the initiative are worried reputable breeders will go bust with the regulations concerning recreational space and nourishment. And while many of the provisions are already encased in state law, there is a new regulation slapping a limit on the amount of dogs a breeder can possess.

But one thing that’s not addressed within the proposition is how it will be enforced. The Springfield News-Leader refused to endorse the initiative because it argued there’s nothing in it that provides more funds for actually following through on the regulations. That’s been the problem that yanked the issue into critical mass in the first place.

And with the state looking down a big budgetary hole, it’s unlikely the legislature will dole out more money for state inspectors. And with a number of municipal and county jurisdictions in similarly stressful budgetary situations, it’s an open question whether local officials will be able to do more than they are already doing. It’s possible that this proposition’s passage could put more pressure to break up breeders who run afoul of the law. But no matter how you may love that pooch that sits in your lap or walks by your side, the success or failure of this ballot item may not be the be-all-end-all solution to the problem. It’s going to take the continued efforts of state and local officials to keep the ball rolling on this issue.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio).

Prop A – Allows Voters to Decide on Economic Future

Scott Charton
Commentary by:
Scott Charton, spokesman for the YES on A Coalition.
Aired October 06, 2010
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Back in 1959, Harry Caray was still broadcasting the Cardinals games. And in 1959, the Gateway Arch, the old Busch Memorial Stadium and even the University of Missouri-St. Louis were all unrealized visions for the future.

Things do change.

But one big thing changed in St. Louis since 1959. That’s the last time city residents had an opportunity for a stand-alone vote on the one percent local earnings tax. That’s the tax imposed on people who live and work in the City of St. Louis.

That means anyone who lives or works in St. Louis is forced to pay a third level of income taxes at the local level on top of state and federal taxes. And they haven’t had any direct say about the local earnings tax since 1959. More than half a century later, Proposition A will at long last give St. Louis voters an opportunity to simply authorize a local election on the local earnings tax.

Proposition A – the Let Voters Decide Initiative – is a ballot measure submitted for voter approval in the November 2 General Election.

A “Yes” vote on Prop A does two things:

It requires the politicians to let the local residents in St. Louis and Kansas City have local votes next spring on their local earnings taxes. If the local earnings taxes are renewed by local voters, they would then be able to vote on those taxes every five years. Such sunset votes on local taxes are quite common in Missouri. This means people in St. Louis and Kansas City can decide for themselves whether to continue the local earnings tax in their city or gradually phase it out over a period of ten years.

And, Prop A prohibits the politicians from creating any new local earnings taxes in Missouri. That’s important in these tough economic times. For many Missouri families, the earnings tax collected each year for living, or working, in St. Louis and Kansas City, adds up to a mortgage payment, maybe a couple of car payments or books and clothes for school.

More than 210,000 Missourians signed the petition to put Prop A on the ballot. This is because they want a chance to finally vote on local earnings taxes. In St. Louis, such a local vote is long overdue. But self-interested politicians and bureaucrats seem to fear having to justify keeping the tax to the very people who pay it, and who have not had a say about the tax in more than half a century.

No one will argue that the earnings tax attracts new residents and businesses to Missouri’s largest cities – because, in fact, only 25 of the 150 largest cities in the United States impose local earnings taxes. And, in fact, both St. Louis and Kansas City have given certain companies breaks from paying the earnings tax.

One more thing: contrary to what some opponents have said, Prop A does not repeal the earnings taxes in St. Louis and Kansas City. It only allows local voters in the two largest cities to have the final say about their local earnings tax. Our campaign believes that once voters get the facts, they’ll vote YES on A, to let voters decide.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio)

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Prop A – Detrimental to Missouri’s Economic Engine
Commentary by:
Nancy Coperhaver, legislative director for the League of Women Voters of Missouri.
Aired October 05, 2010
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It is League’s belief that government should provide those services to its citizens that they cannot provide individually, requiring collective support (taxes) for those services. It seems that generally people have an inherent opposition to taxes, never realizing the positive impact that they have on our daily lives. Important services such as public schools, roads, buses, police and fire protection, public health regulations, libraries, and consumer protections are all paid for by tax dollars.

On the November 2nd ballot, Proposition A will ask voters if they wish to vote on eliminating or retaining the earnings tax in St. Louis and Kansas City, without finding a substitute means of paying for the services mentioned above. Although these two cities are the only cities in the state with an earnings tax, the entire state must vote on the issue. The current earnings tax is a one percent tax on salaries, wages, commissions and other compensation, paid by all employed city residents whether they work in the city or elsewhere, and by all non-residents who work in the two cities. The issue would also prohibit any other city from ever adopting an earnings tax, even if they decided at the local level that this would be the best option for them.

The earnings tax makes up about one third of St. Louis’ general revenue budget and close to 40-percent of the Kansas City budget. Can you imagine our two major cities, struggling financially as they are, reducing their budgets by 30 to 40-percent? What are the options to replace the earnings tax? There are no good ones.

Sales taxes and property taxes are two major taxes that support city budgets. To raise the equivalent revenue from the lost earnings tax would require a huge increase in the sales tax or tripling property taxes – neither a viable solution — and they would put an untenable burden on those least able to pay.

The League believes that ending the earnings tax would be extremely disruptive to St. Louis and Kansas City. Services, infrastructure, and safety would deteriorate and quality of life would be adversely affected. Businesses and developers would likely prefer to locate elsewhere. And, it would affect our whole state as St. Louis and Kansas City are referred to as the “economic engines” of our state.

Why would anyone choose to end the earnings tax when it pays for crucial services and is accepted by the people? The earnings tax adds to the tax mix, complements other taxes, and helps provide financial stability. It combines the ability to pay and benefits received. The tax is difficult to evade, easy to enforce, and broad based–all positive attributes.

Whether one believes in the earnings tax or not, now is not the time to withdraw crucial revenue away from St. Louis and Kansas City. The League of Women Voters believes that it is essential to maintain local control and retain the present revenue source for Missouri’s two largest cities by voting against Proposition A.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio)

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