Mo. Supreme Court upholds 2010 earnings tax law changes

An initiative petition that won overwhelming voters’ approval two years ago was constitutional, Missouri’s Supreme Court ruled today.

The high court’s eight-page opinion, written by Judge George Draper III, upheld Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem’s Aug. 15, 2011, ruling dismissing all claims in a lawsuit filed by two Kansas City men challenging the proposal to prevent all cities from creating an earnings tax, and requiring Kansas City and St. Louis to hold citywide votes every five years in order to keep their earnings taxes on the books.

An earnings tax is an up-to 1 percent tax on the amount of income a person earns if they live, or work in, a city that imposes the tax.

Pat Dujakovich — a Kansas City Fire Department Field Battalion chief and the president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO — and Troy Schulte, Kansas City’s Budget Officer, filed the lawsuit in 2010, seeking to block the November election on the proposal.

Beetem overruled that request, and voters approved the state law change by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

After a full hearing in 2011, he ruled that Dujakovich and Schulte had not proved they were entitled to any declaration of rights and dismissed their case “with prejudice,” meaning they couldn’t file a new suit making the same, or similar, claims.

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