Amendment 4, on the ballot this November, would set a precedent for unfunded mandates that should concern all Missourians. In recent weeks, Amendment 4 has faced increased opposition from many different angles.
“Amendment 4 creates a dangerous exception to the Missouri constitution,” the KC Chamber said in a statement released October 12th. “If passed, Amendment 4 could lead to other constitutional amendments that harm Missouri’s local governments and taxpayers by creating unfunded mandates on local governments.”
But the KC Chamber is not the only voice of opposition. A joint letter signed by 18 organizations across Missouri states a similar concern. “Passing this bill would underpin state control over Kansas City,” the letter declares, “and set the stage for the state government to seize control over other Missouri municipalities.”
The Kansas City Star Editorial Board emphasized the threat that state overreach poses to democracy in a recent editorial: “Empowering the state to impose financial mandates on a local entity is a terrible idea at odds with basic tenets of democracy. Remember the Boston Tea Party protest over taxation without representation?”
There is a myth that Amendment 4 only impacts Kansas City, but as the growing opposition indicates, this is not true. Amendment 4 would force the city of Kansas City to raise its minimum police budget from 20% to 25% of general revenue, but in doing so, it would allow an exception to the Hancock Amendment, a provision in the Missouri constitution that protects cities from state overreach. While this state overreach would take away the ability of Kansas Citians to influence how our tax dollars are spent, it also sets a dangerous precedent for state control over other towns and cities in Missouri.
Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, is challenging Amendment 4 on the basis it violates the Hancock Amendment. “Amendment 4 is an example of taxation without representation,” Grant says, adding, “The people of Kansas City should have a say in where their funding goes, but more importantly, state politicians should not force Kansas City to do anything with the budget that is contrary to the community’s rights. That’s why it’s important we do what we can to reclaim our community and vote no on 4 this November.”
As Election Day approaches, it’s getting harder to find support for Amendment 4. This amendment is bad for all of Missouri because it weakens the ability of communities to make their own decisions.
Director, Community Organizing
Urban League of Greater Kansas City
1710 Paseo Boulevard
Kansas City, Missouri 64108