KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Hall family (of Hallmark fame) and its foundation has pledged $75 million to build a Translation Medical Institute on the campus of Children's Mercy Hospital downtown, but the offer is contingent on voters passing the 1/2 cent medical research sales tax in November.
"We would not build the building without the tax," says Bill Hall, President of the Hall Foundation.
The proposed tax would generate about $40 million dollars a year to fund medical researchers and lab equipment.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders says having the building paid for privately would be a huge head start.
"We've got $75-million in the door. That's roughly two years worth of tax revenue. I think the opportunity here is absolutely unbelievable what it could do for our community and the lives of our citizens," Sanders said.
But some critics, like former Kansas City Councilman Dan Cofran, say voters shouldn't confuse generosity with good public policy.
"Sales taxes are just too high at this moment. We need to focus on providing quality basic services," Cofran told Fox 4.
A TV campaign opposing the county-wide sales tax is being paid for by Brad Bradshaw. The Springfield, Missouri attorney is a former surgeon who says he supports a sales tax for medical research but on a much bigger scale.
"Instead of doing this on the county level that won't raise enough money to really find cures for curable diseases, we need to do it on the state level so that we can raise enough money to really find cures," says Bradshaw.
Bradshaw says what Missouri really needs is a statewide sales tax that would bring in nearly $400-million dollars a year, not $40-million just in Jackson County.
But he admits 2016 is the soonest he can get his measure on the ballot.
If metro voters approve the Jackson County tax, the Translational Medical Institue could be operational by late 2015.