The state Senate has been asked to consider exemptions from St. Louis’ earnings tax rather than a full repeal. The updated proposal prompted emotionally-charged debate Monday in the chamber.
Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) had proposed eliminating the earnings tax in Kansas City and St. Louis, which pays for much of those cities’ public safety needs. After a series of changes earlier this session, the Senate debated an exemption from St. Louis’ tax of the first $10-thousand of income for all taxpayers, and a complete exemption for those with earnings at or below the federal poverty level.
Schaefer argues the tax stifles economic development.
Voters in St. Louis overwhelmbing renewed that tax last week, but Schaefer said two-thirds of those who pay it don’t get to vote on it.
“If you pass a law, you vote on a law, that says two other people actually have to pay $1 apiece and you only have to pay a dollar for the $3 it takes, then we’ll do that,” said Schaefer.
Senate Democrat leader Joe Keaveny (St. Louis) says some just want police and fire protection for free.
“The two-thirds that you’re talking about are the free riders,” said Keaveny. “The guys that want to come in to the ballgame and want police protection, want a cop on every corner, but they don’t want to pay it.”
Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) said Schaefer should should leave that tax alone, and accused him during Senate Floor debate of carrying the bill on behalf of billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who opposes the tax and has donated to Schaefer’s Attorney General campaign.
“It’s appalling that you’re carrying the water for Rex Sinquefield,” said Nasheed.
Schaefer saw that as a personal attack.
“That’s the kind of dialogue that has to stop on this floor and I’m asking that [Nasheed] be called to order,” said Schaefer.
Debate on Schaefer’s bill ended without a vote.