OK, so I was off by a point or two.
Missouri Amendment 7 — the proposed three-quarter-cent sales tax increase for transportation — lost Tuesday by a 59 to 41 percent vote margin.
The final, unofficial count was 590,963 to 407,532.
I predicted a 60-40 defeat.
What went wrong?
The problem was Kansas City. Here, in our own beloved town, “yes” voters prevailed by a count of 18,926 to 18,715 — slightly more than 200 votes.
Maybe it was because publicity about the expanded streetcar proposal (which also failed badly) overshadowed Amendment 7. Maybe it was because The Kansas City Star foolishly endorsed Amendment 7 because a majority of the editorial board was so keen on the streetcar expansion. Maybe it was because Freedom Inc. foolishly endorsed it because the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City — part of the “concrete cartel” — leaned heavily on Freedom officials and gave them a lot of “walkin’ around money.”
Maybe Kansas City voters aren’t as smart as I thought they were.
To give you a contrast, voters in St. Louis County and St. Louis City defeated Amendment 7 by a margins of 68-32 percent and 66-33 percent respectively, and in Jackson County outside Kansas City the margin was 59 to 41 percent, mirroring the overall state ratio.
Despite the Kansas City result, I am thrilled about the outcome. Thanks very much to all of you who rallied to the cause of Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, the St. Louis-based campaign committee that led the charge. Your response — gobbling up yard signs, buttonholing your relatives and friends and, in some cases, contributing money — had a big impact.
We were outspent about $4 million to $30,000, and yet we carved the concrete cartel — the road builders, materials suppliers and engineering companies — into little chunklets.
If they really want more money for statewide transportation projects, it’s time for them to come to the negotiating table and talk about a modest increase in the state’s gas tax, which, at 17 cents a gallon, is sixth lowest in the country.
A nine-cent gas-tax increase would raise about $300 million a year, or $3 billion over 10 years. That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of projects. That’s a lot of jobs.
Wake up, concrete cartel members, the gig is up; a sales-tax increase is not going to happen.