Medical research tax moves forward

The Jackson County Legislature will vote next week on whether to put a tax for medical research to voters on Nov. 5.

Supporters presented the tax details Monday and several legislators spoke in favor of it but they delayed a vote until next week.

The half-cent sales tax would last 20 years and raise $40 million a year for a new institute on hospital hill that supporters say would be a center for health care and research and a hub for medical jobs.

It would recruit the best researchers and provide better health care, high paying jobs and ground breaking treatments and cures, they said.

“You can show the rest of the country that this county intends to be a bold leader,” said Donald Hall, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards.

The Institute for Translational Research and Medicine would be a collaboration of Children’s Mercy Hospital, Saint Luke’s Health System, UMKC and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

The tax money would be overseen by five boards, supporters said, and 20 percent of any net profits from development of drugs and treatments would go to a Jackson County foundation that could spend the money on health care.

Legislator Dan Tarwater told them, “I’m in favor of letting the public decide.”

Legislator Crystal Williams said she supports it but noted that sales taxes are regressive and hurt the poor.

Legislator James Tindall voiced concerns that the project makes no explicit promises benefiting African Americans.

“The reality is we’re going to pass this out, but how are you going to get it passed in the community?” he said.

Leo Morton, the chancellor of UMKC, said, “The issues we’re focused on (like diabetes and heart disease) are issues that plague the African American community.”

Supporters also said they have a million dollars to use to campaign for the tax.

As to who will pay Nov. 5 election costs, legislator Theresa Garza Ruiz said that with some past taxes, the county pays for the election and is later reimbursed from tax money.

Comments are closed.