A majority of the Missouri General Assembly and others have resorted to shameful shenanigans in an attempt to convince voters to approve a three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation.
One of the worst shenanigans is the duplicitous ballot language.
Here’s the language you’re going to see on the ballot relating to proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 7:
Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges?
This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation and Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments. Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited. This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.
A voter looking at that language for the first time might say to himself, “Well it’s only a temporary tax…looks like it’s only for 10 years, so maybe I should vote for this.”
That’s exactly what a majority of legislators and the “concrete cartel” backing this unfair proposal want voters to think.
The thing is, though, the legislative majority — as well as the heavy constructors, engineers and concrete and asphalt suppliers who badly want to see Amendment 7 approved — have no intention whatsoever of this being a “temporary sales tax” that would expire after 10 years.
Just as with almost every other tax that comes along, the framers want this new tax to go on indefinitely.
You have to dig into the guts of this pig, though, to find out the framers’ true intentions. Those intentions are laid out in House Joint Resolution No. 68, which the General Assembly approved this year and which authorized the upcoming election on Amendment 7.
The resolution states, in part:
“Upon voter approval of the temporary three-quarters of one percent state sales and use tax in this section…this section shall be effective January 1, 2015, and shall continue for ten years. This section shall be resubmitted to the voters for approval at the general election in 2024…Every ten years thereafter, the secretary of state shall submit to the voters for approval the issue of whether the sales and use tax authorized by this section shall be imposed for another ten-year period.”
You get the picture. It would be back on the ballot in 2024. If re-approved then, it would be back in 2034, and so on.
History has shown that once a tax is in place, especially a sales tax, it’s very difficult to pull the plug. The voters just shrug their shoulders, essentially, and say, “Well, we’ve been paying it already, so I guess we can go on living with it.”
Keep in mind that the ballot language, with that reference to a “temporary” tax, is not the governing language. The governing language is in the resolution, the legal document approved by the General Assembly.
So, when you see Amendment 7 on the ballot, just know it’s not as innocent as it appears; it’s a trick and a sham.
You might be interested in how the House and Senate voted on HJR 68.
On April 29, the Missouri Senate approved the bill on a 22-10 vote. Among area senators, Sen. Jolie Justus of Kansas City voted “no,” while Paul LeVota of Independence and Shalonn “Kiki” Curls of Kansas City voted “yes.” All three are Democrats.
The Missouri House approved the bill on a 105-43 vote May 14.