[This post originally appeared on the Show-Me Daily blog.]
Since 2003, Kansas City’s spending has increased by 42 percent, raising the city’s debt to a whopping $1.6 billion (from $517 million in 2003). The city’s population has grown just 4.2 percent in that same time. But there appears to be no plan to halt the spending.
Instead, it appears officials are willing to consider spending even more of the citizens’ taxpayer dollars, not on necessary services, but on items such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and light rail.
Kansas City’s Citizens’ Association, self-described as the city’s oldest non-partisan community organization, presented the astonishing numbers and an analysis of the city’s long-term financial future at a forum on Thursday. Association Chairman Dan Cofran developed a daunting, two-page primer on city finances.
The Association reported that Fitch Ratings downgraded its outlook on Kansas City’s credit to negative. That downgrade does not include the recent Kansas City taxes or the impending 15 percent annual water rate increase to cover a mandated sewer renovation.
Something needs to be done but officials do not appear to know how or where to start, and did not present any concrete plans to address the situation.
Panelists such as Kansas City Councilwoman Jan Marcason and City Manager Troy Schulte only agreed that the city must make the tough decisions that it has failed to do in the past, such as revamping the sewers. However, what those tough decisions might be were barely discussed. Marcason also declined to cite examples of spending that the City Council has rejected.
Even worse, Kansas City seems to have no serious plan for responding to Kansas’ recent tax reductions and eliminations. In fact, Schulte said Kansas City should not “race to the bottom” on taxation and suspected that Kansans would grow to regret the cuts. Again, no plan was introduced to counter Kansas’ recent business-friendly actions.
Panelists did share the view that limits voters have placed on them — such as term limits and requiring approval of the earnings tax every five years — are burdensome. The panel failed to recognize that taxpayers took those steps to try to rein in spending and approvals for every project seeking tax incentives.
Cofran continuously asked how citizens might enforce any long-term strategic plan. Marcason suggested only “working together.” If past actions and this event are any indication, few city elected officials are willing to work together, develop a plan, or make any tough decisions.
1/22/2013 8:39:29 AM
Efforts to use public funds to revive Kansas City's jazz district have failed, and likely always will.
Answering individual aggression with government aggression will not lead us to the society we desire.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is wrong when it says that Kansas is going to fall of a fiscal cliff with its pro-growth tax reforms, and that Missouri will do the same if it follows the same path.
Randy Georges Sr. moved to the U.S. to obtain a good education; now, he may have to move across town so his kids can have the same opportunity. This is a sad state, especially when alternatives, such as giving families private school options, exist.
Missouri has at least two chances to win the Border War.
The state’s foundation formula for K-12 education is currently underfunded. Some are calling for more spending, but freedom, not money, is the answer to our problem.
Should Missouri and other states accept an offer of “free money” from Uncle Sam to expand the Medicaid program in their states? Instead of acting as enablers of fiscal profligacy, Missouri and other states should say “no.”
Conservatives ought to consider these items before ceding state power to the federal government.
Proposition B might have brought some much-needed funding for education, but voters turned down the measure. The “no” vote may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise if legislators act on the need to address school funding issues.
Letters regarding Jacob Turk's race for Congress.
Missouri and Kansas have maintained a steady rivalry for decades, but Kansas' latest tax reforms have changed the competitive landscape between the two states — decidedly in Kansas' favor.
The state board of education voted to grant provisional accreditation to the Saint Louis Public School District, which is the correct decision, but this distinction will mean very little to schools or students.
Subsidies to Ballpark Village and other big-city sports complexes are a gift to some of our wealthiest citizens — sports team owners — that provide little or no broader economic benefit.
Strong teachers’ unions in large public school districts with multiple failing schools will do everything possible to maintain their jobs and benefits. If it is to happen, major reform must come from outside the existing system — through increased competition and choice.
Taxpayer-funded lobbying for local government entities likely will not be banned so it is time to create transparency so citizens can see how their money is being spent.