Kansas City’s Earnings Tax Ignorance
Brace yourself: Kansas City leaders are preparing a campaign to scare you into voting for the earnings tax. On Monday morning, Kansas City Mayor Sly James gathered with the usual suspects to decry efforts to end the earnings tax. According to The Kansas City Star:
James said that if the tax is phased out, the city would have to drastically increase property or sales taxes to replace that revenue, but Kansas City doesn’t have authority to raise those taxes to that degree.
James said losing that money could mean laying off 810 uniformed police officers and 550 firefighters over 10 years.
City Hall has known this earnings tax vote was coming for years, and yet they have apparently done nothing to prepare for it. There appears to be no contingency plan. As a result, City leaders do nothing but offer doom and gloom scenarios of public safety cuts and increased taxes.
Almost exactly five years ago, City Hall leaders also came out to oppose the first effort to end the earnings tax. They said the same things Sly James is saying now. Just like Mayor James, Jan Marcason said that if the earnings tax were defeated at the ballot, the city would have to cut benefits and services. Thankfully, I was at the press conference to ask some questions:
Tuohey: Jan [Marcason], you said in your comment that if this passed that the City Council would have to increase property taxes or cut services. Are you saying now that you would vote to cut services to seniors or vote to increase property taxes and vote to increase income taxes?
Marcason: No. I just think we need a plan. If these cuts were to come about, we need a plan to replace that money.
Tuohey: Does the City Council have a plan?
Marcason: The City Council is looking to its leadership…
Cindy Circo: We passed a resolution to…
Tuohey: To what?
Circo: We passed a resolution to look at all the options, but there's no turn off on the light switch. There's no way to do this overnight.
(The rest of the video is entertaining. Dave Helling of The Star pushes back on the idea that the City cannot make cuts and then-Councilman Russ Johnson argues with him over the shoulder of a clearly uncomfortable Jason Kander.)
I am not aware of any contingency plans the city has made if the earnings tax is defeated. Instead they prefer to complain like a petulant student who has not studied for finals, and make threats based on their own unpreparedness.