I’m not going to write a novel. A number of my friends are taking part, yet again, in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), but right now, I don’t really feel like I have a novel in me. I do like to write, every now and again, and that’s part of why I have this blog. So I’m going to take this opportunity to be a part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I’m going to attempt to blog at least once a day, on a variety of topics.
Today’s topic is an unusual one for me. I rarely get too much into politics, not least because I cannot vote in this country that I call home – at least, not until I become a citizen. But there’s one particular thing happening this election that’s bugging me, which is Proposition A, and the way it’s being presented by the proponents.
Two cities in Missouri, Kansas City and St Louis City, have an earnings tax for people who live or work inside the city limits. It’s 1% of all that person’s income.
Proposition A has two main parts. Firstly, it would forbid any other city in Missouri from being able to set up an earnings tax. Secondly, it would require any city already having an earnings tax to vote every five years on whether or not they would like to keep it, and if they decide not to, it would then be phased out over the ten years following that vote. The campaign slogan for the proponents is “Let Voters Decide”.
There are a couple of problems I have with it, specifically with how the proponents are suggesting it would work. Firstly, they say it would prevent a city from imposing an earnings tax on its residents. But cities can’t impose such an earnings tax anyway, as it requires an amendment to the charter of the city, which requires a vote from the residents. So, for this item, the voters already do decide.
For the two cities that already have an earnings tax, voters also can choose to remove it, by having a local city-wide vote organized through the normal channels. Again, voters already do decide.
For the requirement of voting to confirm they’d like to continue the tax, if that city’s residents vote that they’d like to discontinue it, the other provisions of the proposition mean there’d be no way to reintroduce it at a later date. So actually, this would somewhat remove the ability of voters to decide. If they vote “yes, we’d like to keep it”, the law would say “well, let’s check again in 5 years”. If they vote “no, we’d like to abolish it”, the law would say “OK, that’s your final answer”. I’m not quite sure how that works as a “Let Voters Decide” item.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not convinced that an earnings tax is the right thing for either of these two cities. Also, let’s be clear that it does affect me, as I have been been employed within the City of St Louis in the past, and it’s possible I would be in the future. I didn’t like being taxed simply because my job was in the City, but I accepted it, and I knew it before I took that position. But this really is a local issue; if the residents of those two cities want to change it, they should organize a city-wide vote to make that change. It should not be an issue for the voters across the whole state to decide upon.
“Let Voters Decide”? Yes, absolutely. The local voters within that city.
That’s why, if I were able to vote, I’d be voting No on Proposition A.