Missouri voters to Decide on 6 Proposed Amendments to State Constitution
Six ballot measures have been certified by the office of the Missouri Secretary of State (SOS) to appear on the ballot statewide in Missouri on November 8th.
According to the SOS website at sos.mo.gov, Constitutional Amendment 1 will ask, “Shall Missouri continue for 10 years the one-tenth of one percent sales/use tax that is used for soil and water conservation and for state parks and historic sites, and resubmit this tax to the voters for approval in 10 years?”
The measure continues and does not increase the existing sales and use tax of one-tenth of one percent for 10 years. The measure would continue to generate approximately $90 million annually for soil and water conservation and operation of the state park system.
The tax has done what it was suppose to do: decrease soil erosion. It is an important tax that helps all Missourians enjoy the outdoors and represents 75% of the parks division’s entire budget. Consider supporting it.
Amendment 2 would establish limits on campaign contributions to candidates for state or judicial offices. Missouri is the only state in the nation with no limit on campaign contributions or lobbyist gifts. During this year’s primary and election cycles, statewide candidates have received tens of millions of dollars cumulatively in contributions to their campaigns, with millions coming from out of state and Political Action Committees, which can conceal the source of contributions.
Question 2 states, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to establish limits on campaign contributions by individuals or entities to political parties, political committees, or committees to elect candidates for state or judicial office; prohibit individuals and entities from intentionally concealing the source of such contributions; require corporations or labor organizations to meet certain requirements in order to make such contributions; and provide a complaint process and penalties for any violations of this amendment?
Recent primary election results show that buying elections rarely happens as many big money candidates lost. Amendment 2 wants to play on emotions and media perceptions that it is money, and not the actual candidate that dirties elections. Not being allowed to donate to one’s candidate may mean in the future that only rich candidates will run. Think carefully before you decide to limit how elections are funded.
Constitutional Amendment 3 proposes to increase taxes on cigarettes each year through 2020, at which point this additional tax will total 60 cents per pack of 20; create a fee paid by cigarette wholesalers of 67 cents per pack of 20 on certain cigarettes, which fee shall increase annually; and deposit funds generated by these taxes and fees into a newly established Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund.
If approved by voters, when cigarette tax increases are fully implemented, estimated additional revenue to state government is $263 million to $374 million annually, with limited estimated implementation costs. The revenue will fund only programs and services allowed by the proposal.
Many observers see Amendment 3 as one of the most deceitful measures ever to be put before the public. Big tobacco is actually FOR this amendment because it increases taxes by 400% on their competitors. Furthermore, as Missourians have seen, funding for schools is a bait and switch. Sure, the taxes supposedly go to schools but on the other end, the state has decreased money from schools from other sources. The funding of something as important as education should not depend on how many and how much people smoke.
A “yes” on Amendment 4 would amend the Missouri Constitution to prohibit a new state or local sales/use or other similar tax on any service or transaction. This amendment only applies to any service or transaction that was not subject to a sales/use or similar tax as of January 1, 2015. Potential costs to state and local governmental entities are unknown, but could be significant. The proposal’s passage would impact governmental entity’s ability to revise their tax structures. State and local governments expect no savings from this proposal.
The truth? It sounds good but is another example of special interests trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. This amendment hopes to prevent a future vote of the people to eliminate the state income tax.
Photo ID for voters is the basis of the hotly contested Constitutional Amendment 6, which ask, “Shall the Constitution of Missouri be amended to state that voters may be required by law, which may be subject to exception, to verify one’s identity, citizenship, and residence by presenting identification that may include valid government-issued photo identification?”
Democrats contend that voter fraud does not exist, but multiple cases of voter fraud have been documented in Missouri and around the nation. While Voter Photo ID has passed in other states, liberal courts have repeatedly struck down those measures passed by voters under the guise of being called unconstitutional.
Confidence in the election process is central to democracy. Photo ID is required for many basic actions in the country from boarding a plane, buying alcohol and tobacco, opening a bank account, applying for food stamps, Social Security benefits and welfare, students taking the ACT for college, getting a mortgage, renting or buying a car, adopting a pet, getting married, renting a hotel room, get a fishing or hunting license, buying a cell phone, blood donations and purchasing certain cold medicines. Why would something as important and central to democracy as voting be an exception?
Proposition A would amend the Missouri Constitution to increase taxes on cigarettes in 2017, 2019, and 2021, at which point this additional tax will total 23 cents per pack of 20; increase the tax paid by sellers on other tobacco products by 5 percent of manufacturer’s invoice price; use funds generated by these taxes exclusively to fund transportation infrastructure projects; and repeal these taxes if a measure to increase any tax or fee on cigarettes or other tobacco products is certified to appear on any local or statewide ballot.
If voters approved Prop A, state government revenue would increase by approximately $95 million to $103 million annually when cigarette and tobacco tax increases are fully implemented, with the new revenue earmarked for transportation infrastructure. Local government revenues could decrease approximately $3 million annually due to decreased cigarette and tobacco sales.
Proposition A is a counterproposal to Amendment 3. But this time the proposed tax increase is smaller and does not give Big Tobacco a competitive advantage as they seek in Amendment 3. The proceeds of the increased tax on tobacco products would be dedicated to transportation infrastructure but as with any tax we must always ask “How is the money we currently spend being used.” The only way our roads will ever improve will be to invest in them. Until the legislature adequately funds them this may be the only answer.
–BY JOHN WRIGHT