David Stokes
I liked Sen. Joan Bray's original proposal to expand the St. Louis Zoo-Museum taxing district. I liked it because it gave taxpayers in neighboring counties a choice: institute the tax locally or pay an entrance fee. It got rid of the free riders, but didn't mandate either option. Now, though, the tax expansion part has been removed and the proposal is just moving ahead as a typical new fee or tax.

The good news is that, in Sen. Bray's own words, it is not likely to pass, and is really just there to get the discussion going, for which I applaud her. I am glad to participate in the discussion — hell, that's what I do! For next legislative session, the proposal should include choices by counties as to whether they want to institute a tax or have their residents pay an admission fee. It should also allow for the expansion of the facilities supported by the tax so that any county adopting it can have one entity added to the district. Any new county should also be represented on the district's board of director's, as former St. Louis mayor and state Sen. Jim Conway said in the article:
Conway, a zoo board member, added that "something of this magnitude" needs to first be vetted by the institutions and "all the other civic leaders" to help build support.

How does Mr. Conway fit into my recent study of the number of elected officials in Missouri? When he was a senator, he quietly passed legislation making the medical examiner of St. Louis an appointed doctor rather than an elected official. I think we can all agree that large cities with large city problems should have medical examiners who are doctors — and not just some former state rep who ran for the position because he was term limited.

About the Author

David Stokes
David Stokes was a policy analyst at the Show-Me Institute from 2007 to 2014 and was director of development from 2014 to 2016.