Mayor Sly James goes door-to-door to generate support for earnings tax

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- KC's top politician hit the sidewalks with a ball cap and walking shoes Sunday, a man on a mission. Kansas City voters will vote yes or no on an earnings tax Tuesday. It's been in the headlines lately, and Saturday, Mayor Sly James made it personal by knocking on doors at homes in Brookside.

Mayor James said it was in an effort to get people to support renewing the Earnings Tax. It's a 1% tax an in individual's earned income. All residents are required to pay the tax, even if they work outside the city. People who work in Kansas City but live elsewhere also pay the tax.

The tax has been in place in KC since 1963. Supporters say it makes up about 40% of the city's general fund and without it, public services will take hits. Those against the tax say it's a regressive, flat tax and the new businesses in Kansas City get to keep their portion of the earnings tax.

Mayor James said, "Our business surveys indicate to us that taxes, especially the earnings tax, are like number 15 or so on a list of 20 things that are important to them. They care much more about services that are being delivered, a stable economy, and whether or not there are good schools and good places to raise a family."

Patrick Tuohey with the Show-Me Institute opposes the tax. He said, "What happens now is that Kansas City spends at least $110 million right off the top of their budget diverting to crony capitalists. Giving corporate welfare out to businesses that are connected with city officials."

Brookside resident Shawn McDonald was surprised and glad to see Mayor James at his front door. McDonald said, "It's obviously something that's important to him, and he thinks it's important enough to come around the neighborhood."

Kansas City votes Tuesday.