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Freedom Inc. now expected to endorse Missouri highway tax, oppose streetcar

07/08/2014 4:52 PM

07/08/2014 4:55 PM

Freedom, Inc., the center city political group, is expected to endorse the 3/4 cent statewide transportation sales tax on the August ballot — but oppose formation of a streetcar expansion district in Kansas City.

The announcement could come this week.

The group’s board discussed the issues Monday, according to a source, but was badly split on its recommendations. The decision to endorse the transportation tax — but reject the streetcar — worried some board members, who pointed out the statewide tax will help build the streetcar.

And Freedom opposed the Jackson County sales tax for translational medicine last year, in part because of its impact on the poor. Board members were concerned that endorsing a regressive sales tax for statewide transportation would be seen as inconsistent with that 2013 position.

But the majority of the board concluded the statewide tax would potentially provide jobs for some residents. There may also be some money set aside for transportation projects in the center city.

The official announcement is expected this week, and could change before then if facts change. Lobbying on both sides continues.

But a majority of board members is apparently committed to endorsing the tax, while rejecting the streetcar.

Campaign consultant Pat Gray, known for his connections with the Heavy Constructors, is believed to have talked with at least some Freedom board members about the endorsements.

The Heavies have committed more than $500,000 to the campaign for the transportation sales tax. At the same time, the Heavies have fought against mass transit in Kansas City for decades.

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