Today, for the first time, I was on the other side of the notebook.
As the sole spokesman for the Committee to Stop a Bad Cure, I held a news conference on the steps of the county courthouse and laid out the elements of an alternative to the proposed Civic Council Sales Tax.
The Star, The Examiner and the KC Hispanic News had representatives. The two others attending were a blogger named Ryan Flowers and p.r. consultant Pat O’Neill, who is working for passage of the proposed half-cent sales tax to benefit “translational medical research.”
Here are the elements of my proposal:
1) The County Legislature and the Civic Council take the necessary steps to pull Jackson County Question 1 off the November ballot. (It can be done, easily, with a court order until Tuesday, Sept. 24.)
2) The Hall family and the Hall Family Foundation redirect its $75 million pledge — taking the onus off the taxpayers and challenging corporations, other foundations, wealthy individuals and the general public to raise $425 million.
3) With $425 million in pledges in hand, private funding would amount to $500 million, including the Hall family’s $75 million.
4) Then, the Civic Council could go back to Jackson County and seek voter approval of a one-eighth-cent sales tax, which would generate about $10 million a year. That tax would have a duration of 15 years (instead of 20) and would bring in a total of at least $150 million over the 15-year period.
5) That would provide at least $650 million in overall funding, thus reducing the program from $800 million.
I believe this is a reasonable and proportional approach, and I would support it.
As I said at the news conference, I am not an anti-tax crusader and have voted for almost every tax proposal that The Star has recommended during the 44 years I have been in Kansas City. (Can’t help it; I still look to my former, longtime employer for guidance on civic issues.)
Two years ago, I was a spokesperson for the committee that successfully campaigned to retain Kansas City’s earnings tax.
But I am strongly opposed to the county’s half-cent proposal, which would have taxpayers forking over $800 million to $1 billion over the initial 20-year duration of the tax.
I think the private sector should carry the biggest part of the load when it comes to additional medical research. As I have said before, additional medical research is a luxury not a top government priority.