Government

KCUR News
7:18 pm
Wed January 20, 2010

Council Girds To Defend E-Tax

Kansas City, Mo. – With an eastern Missouri millionaire contributing a half-million dollars to a campaign to end earnings taxes, Kansas City's city council is the threat to revenues seriously.

Council Finance and Audit chair Deb Hermann says it's not that City Hall is in love with the idea of an earnings tax, but that the tax contributes $200 million a year toward paying the city's bills. She says, "loss of that revenue without something in place ahead of time to replace it would be devastating."

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KCUR News
4:46 pm
Wed January 20, 2010

Prelude To A Vote For A Vote

Kansas City, Mo. – A statewide drive to quash the earnings tax in Kansas City and St. Louis is about to begin in earnest. Initiative petitions will be circulated no later than this weekend to promote a Missouri referendum.

The drive will be well funded, in the words of the Jefferson City attorney who drew up the proposal. A half million dollars has been donated as seed money. It comes from St. Louis businessman Rex Sinquefield.

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KCUR News
4:58 pm
Tue January 19, 2010

Legal Knuckles Bared In TIF Tempest

Kansas City, Mo. –
The Jackson County executive pledges to sue Kansas City government unless the city's Tax Increment Finance Commission is opened to broader representation. Documents supporting a motion for temporary restraining order are written and ready to file for a donnybrook-in-the-making.

Jackson County estimates it has $3.5 Million in revenue diverted to TIFs yet has no vote in spending it. Missouri law requires an 11 member TIF commission to move a project. Kansas City's has six, appointed by the mayor.

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The Economy Project
2:12 pm
Mon January 18, 2010

Kansas Likely to Need Loan for Unemployment Benefits

Topeka, KS – The Kansas Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is running out of cash. The fund may start drawing loans from the federal government as soon as next month to keep paying benefits.

The fund pays for unemployment benefits in Kansas. High unemployment rates have meant millions in payments and that has drained the fund over the last year. There is currently around $60 million available to pay unemployment benefits. at the beginning of last year, the fund held more than $500 million.

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KCUR News
11:22 am
Fri January 15, 2010

Field Filing For Kansas State Secretary

Topeka, Kan. – There are now two Democrats and two Republicans running for Kansas Secretary of State. The most recent to announce are already serving in state government.

Democratic State Senator Chris Steineger of Kansas City, Kansas said today he intends to file as an official candidate next week. He appointed a treasurer this week, allowing him to raise funds. Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs chose a treasurer last fall and says he expects to file in coming months.

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KCUR News
10:01 am
Thu January 14, 2010

Republican Leaders Say No New Taxes

Jefferson City, Mo. – Republican leaders in the Missouri House and Senate returned to their party's traditional themes, after talking up ethics and the economy on the legislature's
opening day last week.

Led by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, GOP leaders pledged first and foremost not to raise taxes this year.

"Taking more money from Missouri families is not a sensible solution to fix whatever budget problems we face today," said Kinder.

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KCUR News
9:59 am
Thu January 14, 2010

Audit Recommends Tracking Sales Tax Exemptions

Jefferson City, Mo. – An audit finds Missouri needs to do a better job of tracking how much revenue is lost through sales tax exemptions.

State Auditor Susan Montee said the state has 131 tax exemptions, ranging from food and medicine to construction materials.

"It is a number of $150 billion that is being subtracted off of gross sales revenue. Five years ago in our report it was 120 billion," said Montee.

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KCUR News
5:29 am
Tue January 12, 2010

Financial Famine Backs Lawmakers Into Corner

Topeka, Kan. –
Kansas lawmakers from both parties have registered expected reactions to the governor's proposals to hike sales taxes and cigarette taxes. Now many are conceding there is a need for tax increases of some kind.

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KCUR News
5:16 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Smoker Taxes May Hit Legislative Hopper

Kansas City, Kan. – When the Kansas governor gives his State of the State address this evening he will outline proposals to balance the budget with a shortfall nearing $400 million in the next fiscal year. Tobacco taxes are expected to be on the agenda.

Governor Mark Parkinson has already said he would ask lawmakers to raise the tax, now at 79 cents a pack. The national average is a dollar 34. Aides will not suggest the governor's exact proposal.

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KCUR News
3:30 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Wiesenthal Memorial Highway Bill Gets Widespread Bitartisan Support

Kansas City – Springfield Representative Sara Lampe introduced highway-naming legislation today in an ongoing effort to counter the publicity a regional Nazi group has received for cleaning up the highway.

Representative Lampe introduced House Bill 1668 today in Jefferson City. The bill has 76 cosigners from both parties, and will name a stretch of Highway 160 after Jewish historian and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

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KCUR News
12:23 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Lawmakers Reconsider Missouri Tax System

Jefferson City, Mo. – If you pay personal income tax in Missouri chances are you're in the top tax bracket. It takes only $9000 in taxable income a year to reach the state's top tier. State lawmakers set the tax brackets back in 1931 and they haven't changed since. Now some say Missouri's tax system is due for an update; both to address the basic issue of fairness and a growing budget hole in Jefferson City.

St. Louis Public Radio's Maria Altman reports.

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KCUR News
12:21 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Earnings Tax Debated In KC

Kansas City, Mo. – If you live or work in Kansas City, Missouri a 1% earnings tax takes a bite out of your paycheck. The tax has been around for over forty years. But a petition will soon begin circulating around the state, to bring the "e-tax" before all Missouri voters, and possibility outlaw Kansas City, and St. Louis from collecting that type of tax.

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KCUR News
2:43 am
Fri January 8, 2010

Council Says "No" on E-Tax Repeal Initiative

Mayor Mark Funkhouser urges the city council to study a proposed initiative measure,not reject it.
Photo courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – The latest clash between Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the city council is over a Missouri initiative petition drive that would outlaw the earnings taxes in Kansas City and St, Louis.

Funkhouser told a Kansas City Star reporter last week that he thought the idea merits some consideration. Other council members didn't agree.

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KCUR News
11:05 pm
Thu January 7, 2010

Kansas State Library Taking Text Message Questions

Topeka, KS – Kansas residents wanting to know the name of their legislator or the status of a bill can now text the Statehouse for answers.

The information service is a function of the Legislative Reference Desk of the State Library. On a given day the desk receives as many as 75 calls seeking information.

Most calls to 1-800-432-3924 are answered within minutes. If it takes longer, librarians will return the call with the requested information. All questions and calls are confidential.

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KCUR News
7:34 pm
Wed January 6, 2010

Council Scraps Dress Code Commission Idea

Former councilman Alvin Brooks makes his point against the citizens' commission idea while Alex Thomas and Carol Coe wait their turn.
Video frame courtesy of KCCG, Channel 2.

Kansas City, MO – A city council committee deferred to civil rights leaders yesterday, and scrapped Mayor Funkhouser's plan to create a citizens' oversight committee to look into dress code discrimination and other violations of the public accommodations ordinance.

The man who lost to Funkhouser in the last election, Alvin Brooks, led a delegation whose size was shrunk by the snowy weather.

Brooks said he represented a sizable group of civil rights, community and religious leaders, whom he named as he enumerated their organizations.

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KCUR News
7:03 am
Wed January 6, 2010

Kansas Senators Call for Rainy Day Fund

Lawrence, KS – Two Kansas state senators hope to create a "rainy day" fund to help with future budget problems. Topeka Democrat Laura Kelly and Leawood Republican John Vratil unveiled a proposal that would amend the state's Constitution. Vratil says the change would require the state to put money aside during good economic times and essentially save it for a rainy day.

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KCUR News
6:34 am
Wed January 6, 2010

Nixon Calls for Keeping Business in the Show-Me State

Springfield, MO – Governor Jay Nixon says he wants to create a more level playing field for businesses that have been in Missouri for several years.

He stopped in Springfield and Kansas City today to outline his new "Missouri First" proposal. That proposal will be considered during the 2010 legislative session, which begins tomorrow.

The Missouri First program would allow the state to raise the cap on tax credits and other incentive programs for companies that choose to expand in-state instead of moving elsewhere.

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KCUR News
10:02 am
Thu December 31, 2009

How Soon Do You Want That Money?

Topeka, KS – Kansans settled into the old ways of filing tax returns are being given a sobering caveat . Budget woes have caught up with the state revenue department and obvious signs are near at hand.

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KCUR News
9:48 am
Thu December 31, 2009

Missouri Governor Urges Ethics Reform

St. Louis, MO – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is urging state legislators to craft a comprehensive ethics reform bill in 2010.

In a two-page letter Nixon outlined 4 core elements he says are necessary to strengthen the credibility of Missouri's elected officials.

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KCUR News
9:45 am
Thu December 31, 2009

Redevelopment Planned for Site of Jefferson City Prison

Jefferson City, MO – State and local officials have unveiled redevelopment plans for the old Missouri State Prison in Jefferson City.

Plans for the 140-acre site include government buildings, privately-owned residential and retail space, and preserving much of the historical prison facility. Kelvin Simmons heads Governor Nixon's Office of Administration:

"We'll continue to try to do the environmental, do the clean-up, get the infrastructure in place, and then the next thing is try to entice private developers."

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KCUR News
4:37 pm
Tue December 29, 2009

Dear Judge

Mayor Shay Baker in a happier time, one month before her controversial ouster.
kcur photo by dan verbeck

Leavenworth, KS. – The Leavenworth City Commission was out of line when it ousted the mayor earlier this year. The opinion has no power of law, but it does come from the Kansas Attorney General.

Mayor Shay Baker was taken out of her role as mayor last September but stayed on as elected member of the city commission. She was removed from office after siding with a convicted drug dealer who asked leniency from a judge. Her letter of recommendation was on city stationary and included a mayor's business card.

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KCUR News
3:47 pm
Mon December 28, 2009

Drive Being Drawn to Sink E-Tax

Jefferson City, MO – The way is clear to collect signatures on initiative petitions to eliminate or phase out earnings taxes in Kansas City and St. Louis. Those taxes are budgeted to bring nearly $200 million to Kansas City next year.

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KCUR News
4:49 pm
Mon December 21, 2009

Nod To Rail Hub: Protests Unabated

Gardner, KS – A Kansas group opposed to a huge rail hub in Johnson County calls issuance of a federal permit,"arbitrary" and "capricious," and threatens a lawsuit to block it. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved construction for the 400 acre project.

The permit will allow one of the largest economic development ventures in the Kansas City area. Developer BNSF Railway plans to build on the 400 acre site off Interstate 35 near Gardner.

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KCUR News
10:36 am
Mon December 21, 2009

Kansas Governor Will Likely Push for Tobacco Tax Increase

Topeka, KS – Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson is likely to push for increasing the state's tobacco tax in the coming legislative session, to make up for a budget shortfall.

He says Kansas could face a deficit of more than 300 million dollars in the coming fiscal year.

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KCUR News
2:29 am
Fri December 18, 2009

Council Exempts Combat Pay from E-Tax

Kansas City, MO – Federal and state law exempt combat pay from income taxes, but nobody at City Hall had ever thought of it until Jim Kissinger, a northland resident, suggested it to Mayor Funkhouser and Councilman Russ Johnson.

Kissinger has a son-in-law, Ryan Paulson, who is serving in Afghanistan with the Missouri National Guard. Funkhouser put together an ordinance, and it became of the quickest measures to pass in recent memory.

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KCUR News
2:33 am
Thu December 17, 2009

Council Considers 'Deck' Over I-670 Downtown

Kansas City, MO – The idea has been around for several years - make the below-grade sections of I-670 between Wyandotte and Oak disappear by capping the freeway with a big deck more than a third of a mile long.

It recently gained momentum when MoDOT said four bridges over 670 in the area would have to be replaced within the next ten to fifteen years. Why not, said some planners, build the deck in conjunction with the bridges.

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KCUR News
10:15 am
Fri December 11, 2009

Carnahan and Montee Sued over Ballot Measures

Jefferson City, MO – A group opposing abortion and a type of stem cell research they consider to be human cloning has filed a federal lawsuit against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and State Auditor Susan Montee.

Missouri Roundtable for Life accuses Carnahan of using language in their ballot questions designed to prejudice voters against their initiatives, and accuses Montee of drafting financial impact statements that are also designed to have a negative impact.

Laura Egerdal is a spokesperson for Carnahan.

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Kansas Statehouse
6:29 am
Fri December 11, 2009

Kansas Begins Redistricing Process

Kansas lawmakers are starting the years-long task of redrawing the lines for both national and state political offices. An advisory group began meeting this week in Topeka to look at the redistricting process.

KCUR News
2:43 am
Fri December 11, 2009

Council PutsTeeth In Dress Codes Resolution

Kansas City, MO – Violation of the Kansas City, Missouri dress code enforcement and public accommodations ordinances now become punishable with a license suspension. The council made that decision Thursday and gave the department of Regulated Industries the power to act on it.

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KCUR News
9:40 am
Thu December 10, 2009

Businesses Ask for Lawmakers Support

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri lawmakers are being urged to provide moral support, as well as funding, to the state's small business interests during the upcoming legislative session.

Mary Davis is president and CEO of Missouri Enterprise, a non-profit group that advocates for small business interests. She asked a House committee Wednesday to publicly commit to supporting the state's small and mid-level manufacturers:

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