Week of October 27, 2013

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In last week’s Catholic Key there was a letter from some of the priests in Jackson County regarding an upcoming issue on the Nov. 5th ballot. Below is a reprint of that letter.

Question 1 on the November 5 ballot seeks to raise $800,000,000 for medical research by the imposition of an additional .5 percent local sales tax on the citizens of Jackson County for the next 20 years. This local tax money will be primarily directed to two private hospitals and UMKC for conducting research leading to “clinical applications that positively impact the health of the world.”

Develop “Next Generation Medicine” leading to cures for the people of the world is an ambitious and worthy goal which should not be paid for by a regressive tax on the citizens of one county in a single state.

As pastors, not scientists or economists, we urge the people of Jackson County to consider three important ways Question 1 could negatively affect the health of our community.

A sales tax is a regressive tax; it hits the poor and struggling middle class the hardest: For families that work paycheck to paycheck to pay for the necessities of life, every dollar earned is a dollar spent – and therefore, a dollar taxed by Question 1. In pursuit of national cures for diseases, it makes no sense to pursue an ambitious national goal by imposing a local, regressive tax on a single county which includes some of the poorest neighborhoods and lowest household incomes in the region.

Question 1 asks us to fund a national goal at a time when our local governments are unable to meet our own local needs. We fear that rather than creating economic development, taking $800,000,000 from Jackson County taxpayers without improving local services will be additional spur for young families to move out of Jackson County.

Question 1 does not ensure ethical research will be conducted: There is nothing in the text of Question 1 to prevent embryo-destructive research. Although many scientists believe in the long-term potential for clinical applications from embryonic stem cell research, it destroys nascent human life and is thus immoral, just as destructive medical experimentation on the bodies of children and adults is immoral.

Question 1 is the only item on the November 5 ballot. That means proponents will find it easier to pass this tax because of low turnout.

If you feel as we do, that paying for medical research for national cures through a Jackson County sales tax is unwise on its face and is a regressive tax on the working poor and struggling middle class, please vote ‘No’ on Question 1 this November 5.

I hope you will vote on November 5 and I hope you will consider the information given above as you cast your vote.

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