Kansas City voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide three important issues, all placed on the ballot by initiative petition. Here are the Star’s recommendations:
NO on Question 1. The measure would prohibit city officials from engaging in any planning for expanding the streetcar system without a vote of the entire city. There are penalties included for violators.
The measure is overbroad and potentially violates the free-speech rights of city officials. And it unnecessarily inhibits the city’s plans for an expanded streetcar system paid for by property owners near the proposed tracks.
Kansas Citians can disagree about the streetcar, and the state-imposed voting system is admittedly cumbersome. But requiring a citywide vote on the streetcar before any progress can be made hurts the city and should be rejected.
NO on Question 2. Transit activist Clay Chastain has offered yet another rail transit proposal, calling this time for a 25-mile system funded by a 25-year, three-eighths-cent sales tax increase.
We remain concerned about sales taxes in general because they hurt the poor. But even if such a tax were palatable, the Chastain proposal wildly underfunds the transit system he promises.
Chastain has said federal funds would be available under any infrastructure proposal from Washington. Congress isn’t likely to pass such a plan anytime soon, and there’s no promise Kansas City would get any money anyway.
That means construction would have to be truncated, and the rail line would be far less ambitious than advertised.
Suggestions that voters support the plan so the money can be used in other rail transit projects are troubling, and we can’t endorse that kind of subterfuge. The Chastain plan is on the ballot, and that’s what voters must consider.
Someday, Kansas City may embrace a well-considered, adequately funded rail transit proposal. This isn’t it. We recommend a no vote.
YES on Question 3. Petitioners want Kansas Citians to vote for an increase in the minimum wage, which would be phased in over several years. It would eventually reach $15 an hour in 2022.
The Star supports raising the minimum wage. Unfortunately, the state of Missouri has taken away the right of any city to do so.
Approving Question 3 would probably provoke a legal struggle. Voters should be clear: if Question 3 passes, an increase in the minimum wage isn’t likely in the near future.
But a yes vote still has value. A defeat Tuesday could hurt efforts to put a statewide increase on the ballot next year, while passage could help the cause.
The lowest-paid Kansas Citians deserve a raise. This measure alone probably won’t give it to them, but it would send an important message and is a step in the right direction. Vote yes on Question 3 in Kansas City.