On Tuesday, the state's voters read through a complex ballot measure and, predictably enough considering the way it was written, a large majority of voters found something they wanted in it. The language seems to require elections every five years in St. Louis and Kansas City to maintain an earnings tax, and to forbid elections in all other cities to impose earnings taxes in the future.
The lawyers will certainly pick through the language again, but it is not unreasonable to expect a citywide election in St. Louis in April 2011 on our earnings tax.
The City currently depends on the earnings tax, which is paid by city residents and by those who do business in the city, 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 April of next year.)
I have formed a campaign finance committee, Citizens for a Stronger St. Louis, to raise money to fund a campaign. The campaign will urge City voters to keep the earnings tax in place for now. In the first several hours of my phoning, concerned individuals and companies pledged $275,000 to the effort.
I will let you know how it is doing.