The proposed new $800 million tax would lead Jackson County in the wrong direction and ultimately be harmful to the cause for finding cures.
By Brad Bradshaw
Special to The Star
As a preliminary matter, being both a physician and lawyer involved in developing ideas for procuring funds for research for cures places me in a unique position to understand the issue before us. Additionally, I truly would like to support this tax as I am an alumnus of both the UMKC School of Medicine and School of Law.
However, no matter how strong my support for UMKC, there is an overriding obligation to share with the people of Jackson County the truth on this particular sales tax this tax is detrimental to the county and negatively affects the cause for finding cures.
First, the $800 million tax would not provide enough funding for researchers to find any treatments. The National Center for the Advancement of Translational Science, the part of the National Institutes of Health devoted to translational medicine, has learned that to find a single effective drug costs over $2 billion.
This means that Jackson County will exhaust the funds raised by this tax after only completing 40 percent of the needed work to find the first treatment. Not only would we not be able to find treatments, but also we would not have enough funding to attract top researchers. Researchers dedicate their lives to finding treatments and wont come to Kansas City when they know that our institute will be woefully underfunded by $1.2 billion.
Second, the promised economic development is not based on Jackson County alone, as the pro-tax side implies. Rather, the estimated economic development by the proponents of this tax is actually based on the 15-county Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area which includes Johnson County, Kan. Why use an estimate based on 15 counties when Jackson County is the only one being asked to pay? Because the proponents know that most of the economic impact will happen outside of Jackson County. If Jackson County is asked to pay $800 million then it should be the one to see the economic impacts.
Finally, it is among the largest tax increases Jackson County has ever considered. If passed, this tax would place hardships upon working families struggling to make ends meet without giving anything in return. The tax covers nearly everything, including food, groceries and over-the-counter medicines. Too many Jackson County parents are already worrying about how they will provide for their families. Jackson County is asked to pay everything and promised nothing.
What Jackson County needs from the county leadership is a plan, not an empty promise. While the temptation to vote based upon emotions is appealing, we must force our leaders to make more thoughtful choices to move Jackson County forward. For now, the best interest of the county is to stop a bad tax and start working together on real solutions.
Brad Bradshaw, of Springfield, Mo., is a surgeon and lawyer with offices in Kansas City on the Plaza, St. Louis and Springfield.