“The Coalition for Missouri’s Future has scored a victory!” said Norma Collins, AARP Missouri associate state director for Advocacy. The coalition, that includes AARP Missouri, opposed the so-called “Everything Tax” that would create massive changes in the Missouri tax structure – and have a negative impact on finances – especially for older adults. On behalf of the coalition, T. David Rogers of Jackson County challenged the ballot measure and filed a lawsuit.
See Also: New "Everything Tax" Proposal is Wrong for Missouri
The Everything Tax, as a proposed amendment to the Missouri state constitution, would replace the state income tax and apply taxes on everything: doctor visits, car repairs, groceries, day care – and a host of other services and products. The proposed state-wide 10 percent sales tax was supposed to close Missouri’s $3.2 billion budget shortfall.
The Everything Tax, however, experienced a devastating blow on April 13 when Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia S. Joyce ruled that the proposed constitutional amendment ballot language was “insufficient, unfair and prejudicial.” The judge’s ruling effectively erased the probability that the efforts would appear on the November ballot. Judge Joyce further ordered Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich to prepare new voter information that clearly states the financial impact of the proposed amendment.
“Proponents of the initiative to replace Missouri’s sales tax conceded on April 16 that ‘the odds are against it’ appearing on the November ballot.” Collins said. She added that the state auditor plans to appeal the ruling by Judge Joyce who declared the ballot narrative deceives voters with biased wording about the measure’s cut of $7.5 billion in state general revenues.
“The appeal,” said Collins, “could take weeks or even months to resolve, likely coming after the May 6 deadline supporters need to submit petition signatures to the Office of Secretary of State.” Collins explained that under Missouri law, signatures gathered on petitions that do not bear the official ballot title cannot be counted.
Voter ID Requirement Struck Down
In another ruling by Judge Joyce, the proposed “Voter Protection Act” was struck down. She ruled that the ballot language was deceptive and misleading and should be removed from the ballot. The ruling stated that “it fails in several respects to accurately inform citizens as to the subject matter on which they are asked to vote, and significant revisions would be required to correct the statement.”
This major victory for Missouri voters was the first ever challenge to a constitutional amendment on photo ID laws that prevents the initiative placed on the ballot in November.
AARP Missouri opposed the legislation because it would have prevented many older adults, persons who are disabled, minorities, and students to vote in the November general election. “Many of our members would have been disenfranchised,” said Collins. “Many states are passing voter ID restrictions and we are pleased that this will not affect Missouri elections in 2012.”