St. Joseph News-Press, Aug. 6
Consider voters’ message:
Missouri voters turned down a tax proposal Tuesday, and now proponents need to think about why that happened.
- It may be voters were unconvinced of the need for new funding for roads and bridges.
This seems unlikely. It could be voters didn’t see the need as urgent, or disagreed about the amount of money required, but most surveys have found broad understanding that something must be done soon to smooth and rebuild our highways, repair or replace aging bridges, and invest in other transportation projects important to economic growth.
- It may be taxes of any form are a tough sell these days.
Perhaps, but voters in St. Joseph and Buchanan County approved a half-cent public safety tax in 2012 and a quarter-cent ambulance service levy in 2013. Together, these taxes equal the three-quarter cent tax for transportation that went down to defeat Tuesday.
- It may be voters believe the sales tax has its limits.
This may be closer to the truth. After all, the combined levy in Buchanan County has risen in the past 18 months from 7.7 percent to 8.45 percent. It would have climbed to 9.2 percent had Amendment 7 passed.
With additional levies authorized in special taxing districts, it would have been common for consumers to pay more than 10 percent in sales taxes in St. Joseph and more than 12 percent in some locations in Kansas City.
- It may be voters wanted options, including a greater focus on user fees.
This thought resonates. Some voters no doubt saw the sales tax proposal as particularly harmful to low-income consumers. Others wanted heavy users of the transportation system to pay a greater share of the cost of improvements - perhaps through a modest increase in our sixth-lowest-in-the-nation motor fuels tax, a toll road on Interstate 70, or both.
A sound defeat for the sales-tax-only proposal gives new life to this blend of options.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 7