Earnings Tax Supporters Positive About Today's Election; Opposition Stays Silent

These signs abound in St. Louis. Placards for the opposition are non-existant.
These signs abound in St. Louis. Placards for the opposition are non-existant.
Since late February, a team of 30 to 65 canvassers have knocked on nearly every door in St. Louis. All 40,000 homes in the city with at least one voter who has cast a ballot in a recent March or April elections has been called on the phone. Up to eight pieces of mail have been sent to every household.

And that's just part of the effort spearheaded by Citizens for a Stronger St. Louis, the pro-earnings tax committee organized by Mayor Francis Slay that hopes you vote "yes" today on Proposition E.

"The mayor has been to 86 public meetings on the topic," says Richard Callow, the political consultant running the committee. "And last Thursday we began one final push to re-connect with voters. We'll be knocking on doors until 7 p.m. Tuesday."

In all, Citizens for a Stronger St. Louis has raised $650,000 to keep the earnings tax in St. Louis. The one percent tax on city residents and those who work in St. Louis raises around $140 million annually and helps pay for city services such as police and fire protection.

And while Callow won't reveal his committee's polling on Prop. E, he's optimistic about today's outcome. "We've discovered that most St. Louis voters know about the earnings tax and thought the amount is fair and supported what it was used for," says Callow.

It's the polar opposite over at Let Voters Decide, the campaign funded by financier Rex Sinquefield, who spent more than $11 million getting the earnings tax issue on the statewide ballot last November.

Back then, two-thirds of Missourians voted for Proposition A, which prohibits new municipalities from adopting local income taxes and required that St. Louis and Kansas City vote on their earnings tax every five years. St. Louis voters, btw, rejected Prop. A by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

That said, you'd think that Let Voters Decide would be pushing extra hard to get its message out for today's St. Louis election.

You'd be wrong. 

"We achieved our objective back in November," says Let Voters Decide spokesman Marc Ellinger. "That goal was to get the issue on the ballot."

Callow, with Citizens for a Strong St. Louis, confirms that his group hasn't run into the opposition in the six weeks it's been actively campaigning on the streets of St. Louis. True to its name, Let Voters Decide seems content on passively placing the issue in the hands of the electorate.

Ellinger tells Daily RFT that his group isn't even hosting a watch party tonight.

"We've moved onto larger tax issues," says Ellinger, who's helping Let Voters Decide build momentum for a ban on the state income tax.

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