I had a spirited discussion with a couple of major players on the one-percent earnings tax debate.
Jeff Rainford, Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff is conceding Proposition A will pass November 2nd. If that happens, the repealing of the earnings tax issue would appear on an April 2011 ballot.
Because this is a statewide vote, Rainford says people in cities that do not have the earnings tax (only St. Louis and Kansas City do right now) will certainly want to get it on a ballot so they can vote, "no." However Rainford is convinced St. Louisans will vote to keep the earnings tax next April.
He points out 70-percent of it comes from people who work in St. Louis but don't live in St. Louis. If that earnings tax went away, St. Louis citizens would have to pick up a 90-million dollar tax burden on their own in the form of higher sales and/or property taxes and face losing some fire and police protection. Rainford believes there's no way that's going to happen, but the city will have to make that clear to voters between now and April assuming Prop A passes in November which Rainford does.
The other guy with us was Jefferson City attorney Marc Ellinger. He says we should say "yes" to Prop A so voters will have a little more control over how the city spends their tax money. If Prop A passes, a potential repeal of the earnings tax would come up for a vote every five years. That means every five years the city would have to justify the earnings tax by convincing the way it's using taxpayer money is smart and not wasteful.
Ellinger agrees with Rainford there's a good chance St. Louis would not repeal its earnings tax if it comes up for an April vote, but he says the time may come in five years, ten years, fifteen years or whenever, citizens decide it's no longer needed and they can get rid of it.
I got to talk to these guys because I was the fill-in host for the taping of "Extra Edition." This one will air at 6am Saturday, October 16th on Channel 4. If this earnings tax issue interests you, it's a pretty good 12-minute discussion to check out.
Mark Schnyder is a reporter at KMOV-TV. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.