ST. LOUIS – That 1% earnings tax the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City both have has provided more than $500 million to both cities last year.

“The people that live in the city, we know how critical this tax is, and we just don’t have a city without it,” State Representative Steve Butz (District 81) said. “It’s just that simple.”

The Missouri House Committee heard from Paul Payne, budget director for the city of St. Louis, at St. Louis Community College on Monday. What was not discussed was litigation with city workers who are fighting tax collection during the pandemic.

St. Louis University professor Ness Sandoval testified to the committee that not enough people are being born in St. Louis compared to the Baby Boomer generation, which will be passing away over the next 20 years.

The group heard about white singles and dual-income earners moving into the city and Black families moving out.

“This thing started out as earnings tax but a lot of the information coming out is about the African American decline in the region over eight percent,” said Paul Berry III, a Republican candidate for Missouri Lt. Governor. “As the professor said, the bottom has not stopped yet. Bottom line is: earnings tax is an important issue, an issue I came here to talk about, but it’s crime and schools.”

The House Special Committee on the earnings tax will hold another public hearing one week from today in Kansas City.

But Monday’s St. Louis stop was clear to all inside who heard the warnings on the impact of removing the city’s earnings tax and what that would do to St. Louis and the state.

“But for the city earnings tax, it’s just one of those non-negotiable points for the city, how the city can survive or even have a chance to survive without collecting the earnings tax is next to zero in my opinion,” Butz said.