Rank Hypocrisy from the Kansas City Star?
On July 10, 2015, the Kansas City Star editorial board bemoaned the state of mental health care in Kansas. Of the states system, they wrote:
Advocates argue convincingly that it is overburdened and underfunded at nearly all levels. A system that at one time was well regarded and innovative is staggering from high demand and too few resources.
The lack of options leaves families of mentally ill individuals in a fearful limbo. Police officers and jails end up dealing with people who should have access to doctors and hospitals.
Surprising no one, the city’s paper of record faulted inadequate funding:
But state funding for a network of outpatient community mental health centers—the first stop for many patients—has been cut in half since 2008. Patients often wait weeks for medications and a treatment plan.
We don’t take issue with the Star‘s conclusion. Tight budgets at every level mean that policymakers have to make difficult choices. What is unfortunate is the Star‘s request to be exempted from having to pay their own fair share of taxes—taxes that would go to support these programs. The Star is asking to extend for 15 years the tax abatement on its downtown printing press. As a result, the Community Mental Health Levy in Jackson County, Missouri, will be denied $245,000 over 15 years. That is a quarter-million tax dollars from the Star‘s single property.
This request comes after the Star had Jackson County reduce their assessment from $42 million in recent years to $22 million in 2015. The folks at the Star seem to have put a lot of effort into avoiding paying taxes on their downtown printing and distribution center. And it’s easy to see why; what the Star prefers not to pay toward mental health is small compared to what they would avoid paying toward Kansas City schools ($10 million), Kansas City ($2 million), and Jackson County ($1 million).
Certainly, corporations can and do make the case that county property assessments are too high. And many businesses in Kansas City benefit from corporate welfare and crony capitalism of some kind. But shouldn’t we expect better from our newspaper?
If the Star wants to call out local and state governments for cutting spending, giving tax breaks to the wealthy, or handing out sweetheart deals, shouldn’t they refrain from seeking the same for themselves? By advocating a kind of “taxes for thee, but not for me” position, the Star risks being accused of nothing less than rank hypocrisy,