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27 October 2010

Purgason: Constitutional Amendments on the Nov. 2 Ballot

Previous Capitol Reports have discussed Propositions A and B that will appear on the November 2nd ballot. Ballot "Propositions" allow you to vote on whether a change will be made to Missouri statutes and do not impact our state constitution. However, there are three constitutional amendments proposed on the Nov. ballot, and it is important to know why they are there and how they would affect Missouri.

Amendment 1 affects only two of Missouri's four charter counties: St. Charles and St. Louis. A Charter County is one with its own municipal constitution. These counties are still subject to the state constitution but have considerable powers to otherwise govern their own affairs. Missouri's other charter counties are Green Co. which elects its assessor and Jefferson Co. which was able to cut itself out of this change. This amendment was proposed by your General Assembly and is needed for government accountability. Voters should have a say in who assesses their taxes. I recommend a vote FOR Amendment 1.

Constitutional Amendment 2 would exempt U.S. POW's from property taxes on their homes. I recommend a vote FOR Amendment 2 simply because it seems a justifiable benefit to those who have clearly sacrificed for our nation. However, it will affect very few Missourians and is more political than substantive. Amendment 2 illustrates a critical weakness in the property tax model; it is easily manipulated to gain political favor by picking winners and losers. Missouri should eliminate the income tax by moving to a tax of consumption instead of productivity and then evaluate expanding the consumption tax to rid ourselves of property taxes

Constitutional Amendment 3 appears on the Nov. 2nd ballot by initiative petition. I recommend a vote AGAINST Amendment 3. It combines a legitimate attempt to stop the incessant attempts of state government to raise taxes by calling them "fees" with what I see as a stealth attempt to thwart The Missouri Jobs and Prosperity Act (formerly the Missouri Fair Tax) by exempting 4% of real estate transactions. Approximately 96% of those transactions are of used homes and would not be subject to a first-use sales tax. If you favor elimination of the Missouri income tax as proposed by SJR 29 in 2010, then you will not be in favor of Amendment 3. If passed, Amendment will result in a higher tax rate to replace the income tax and will also begin the relentless parade of special interests demanding exemptions from the broadened tax base that represents a key element of the Fair Tax model. I hope we are not too late to inform the electorate and defeat this special-interest sponsored amendment.

There is additional information and analysis of these ballot issues on-line and in print media. I have given you my view, but I encourage you to investigate further if you are still unsure.

As always, you may contact me at 573-751-1882, e-mail to chuck{dot}purgason{at}senate{dot}mo{dot}gov or write to me at State Capitol, Room 420, 201 West Capitol Avenue, Jefferson City, MO  65101.

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