Proposition K, a quarter-cent sales tax proposal to fund children’s services for Warren County was decisively defeated Tuesday.
The measure, which also was known as Prop K for Kids, was rejected by 1,719 votes.
A total of 14,259 votes were cast on the initiative. There were 6,270 votes in favor of the measure (43.97 percent) and 7,989 ballots against it (56.03 percent).
Supporters and opponents of Prop K for Kids both campaigned actively for and against the proposition.
This was the second time county voters have rejected the proposal. A similar measure was placed on the November 2010 ballot, but it was defeated by 1,687 votes.
“We’re very disappointed” with the results,” Charlie Denn, co-chairman and treasurer of the Putting Kids First campaign, told The Record. “We felt we had the right formula; we felt like we put the work in, but the voters said no.
“The children are the biggest losers,” he added. “The problems, the issues, they haven’t gone away. They’ve only gotten worse.”
“I feel for the proponents, but they didn’t answer our questions,” stated Rodney Haupt, a spokesman for the campaign which opposed Proposition K. “They needed to come to the table with a proper business plan.
“It’s not that people are uncaring,” he continued. “I think the citizens of Warren County are some of the most generous people in the state. But there was no oversight and no sunset provision.”
Haupt argued that such an approach is “not appropriate for a conservative county like Warren.”
Prepared or Not?
Compared to the unsuccessful effort in 2010, Denn said the campaign in support of Proposition K was “much better” prepared.
“We had the brochure, which we didn’t have two years ago, we put out a lot of mailers and we did a lot of canvassing that we didn’t do” in 2010, he commented.
“We didn’t have any (cost) figures two years ago,” Denn stated.
Denn said research on “disposable income” was conducted, and it was estimated that Proposition K would have cost households an additional $3 per month.
The $3-per-month figure, Denn asserted, was a “minimal cost for a great benefit.”
However, Haupt contended that the campaign’s supporters were not specific enough in terms of identifying which agencies would be brought to the county and what services would be provided.
He added that issues such as who would oversee the county’s children’s services fund and whether the measure would have a sunset provision were not adequately addressed.
“The people of this community want to know what they’re spending their money on,” Haupt said. “And they’re not going to give a half-million dollars to 12 people to spend as they wish. We are definitely Missourians here. Show me.”
Economy Also a Factor
The economy was a major factor in the measure’s defeat the last time it was on the ballot, Denn noted, and he conceded that it likely played a contributing role this year, as well.
“We knew that was a roll of the dice,” he remarked. “There was a fair amount of support (for the proposal) two years ago, and then the economy tanked, which was something nobody could foresee. We felt it was marginally better this time, but perhaps not enough to get the measure through.
“It’s a shame, but so be it,” Denn said.