Happy election day, everyone…
If you haven’t voted absentee, don’t be a luddy duddy, don’t be a mooncalf, don’t be a jabbernowl — get out and vote!
(Love those phrases, from W.C. Fields in “The Bank Dick.” By the way, “jabbernowl” is a variation of “jobbernowl,” which essentially means “blockhead.”)
So, yes, it is election day, and that means one thing:
It’s time to blow away some of the stupidest, most hair-brained proposals that the Missouri General Assembly has ever come up with.
The worst of the lot are Amendment 1, the so-called “right to farm” amendment, and Amendment 7, the proposed 3/4 cent sales tax for transportation projects.
Amendment 1 is a proposal that only the ignorant and naive can love. I’m talking about people who haven’t done any research on Amendment 1 and who immediately put their hands over their ears and hum when better-informed people try to tell them what a duplicitous proposition it is.
As a Kansas City Star editorial said on Sunday: “That right (to farm) isn’t under attack in the state. In reality, the amendment is a bid to protect factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations that are needed to protect consumers, the environment and livestock.
“A ‘no’ vote would ensure that Missouri retains crucial powers to protect consumers and communities from big-farming tactics that, for instance, can release noxious animal waste.”
“Noxious” is the right word for Amendment 1. Let’s hope that enough thoughtful voters in Kansas City, Jackson County, St. Louis and St. Louis County turn out to beat this beast.
Then, there’s No. 7, which, of course, I’ve been working against the last three weeks or so. The committee I’ve been working with, Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, is headed by a St. Louis couple, Tom and Debra Shrout, who own a company that helps communities develop improved transportation programs.
With a campaign “war chest” of about $30,000, we, the opponents, have poked big holes in the proponents’ pitch that Missouri needs “safe roads and new jobs.”
As I have said many times, this is all about shifting the transportation tax burden away from user fees — the gas tax, sales taxes on vehicle purchases and vehicle registration fees — to the general public. As the state Constitution provides, vehicle-related revenue streams are the fairest and most appropriate sources of funds for transportation projects, The sales tax, on the other hand, is the most regressive tax there is, hitting hardest those least able to pay.
As President Obama would say, “It’s not only not right, it ain’t right.”
If the Missouri Department of Transportation can convince the Missouri General Assembly that it needs significantly more money for highways, roads and bridges, the legislature should bring forth a tax proposal that makes sense: a modest increase in Missouri’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax, which is the sixth lowest in the nation.
I have no inkling how Amendment 1 will fare, but if I were betting on Amendment 7, I would put my golf clubs and my hat collection up against a can of corn that voters are going to hand the proponents a big, big defeat.
It won’t match the 86-14 percent margin that we Jackson County voters rang up against the “translational medical research tax” last year, but I think it will be at least 60-40.
People are sick of high sales taxes and new sales-tax proposals that would benefit special interests — in this case, the heavy construction companies, the materials suppliers, the engineering companies and the truckers (who would get a free pass).
As the medical-research tax election showed, Jackson Countians aren’t going to be sucked in any more. I don’t think residents in the rest of the state are going to be sucked in, either.