The Missouri Secretary of State announced today that a statewide initiative to require voters in St. Louis City and Kansas City to decide next year whether or not to keep an earnings tax has collected enough signatures to be on the November ballot.
I expect the measure to do well statewide, and much less well here and in KC. That's because the measure includes a provision certain to be popular outstate barring the collection of an earnings tax in other parts of the state, and because City and KC voters currently depend on the earnings tax to fund a third or more of our municipal expenses. There may eventually come a time when the residents of the St. Louis region find a different way to replace the revenue currently collected as earnings tax or we find a way to govern the region that reduces the cost of public safety, infrastructure, and administration. In fact, I strongly suspect that time is not too far distant. But, it is not as soon as next year.
Financier Rex Sinquefeld, who has supported several good ideas for St. Louis, has also spent millions of dollars to advance the earnings tax proposal this far; and he will likely spend as many millions more to ensure passage statewide. Rex has assured me that he will not support a campaign in the City of St. Louis until the City and the region have found a viable alternative. I plan to urge City voters to keep the earnings tax in place until that happens.