Senate panel nixes sales-tax legislation for Mehlville schools

State Sen. Kennedy says he’s ‘flabbergasted’ by ‘no’ vote


A state Senate committee last week nixed legislation that would have given the Mehlville Board of Education the authority to ask voters to approve a sales tax to help fund district operations.

The Senate’s Ways and Means Committee last week voted down the legislation, Senate Bill 540, which was sponsored by Sen. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis. As proposed, the measure would have given the Mehlville Board of Education the authority to ask voters to approve a sales tax of up to 1 percent to help fund district operations.

During a March 12 hearing, Ways and Means Committee members heard testimony in support of the legislation from Mehlville Board of Education member Tom Diehl, who asked Kennedy to sponsor the measure, and Jerry Chambers, Mehlville interim superintendent. No one testified against the bill during the hearing, Kennedy told the Call, nor did he hear any opposition before or after the hearing.

Therefore, he was “flabbergasted” to learn the committee’s March 14 vote on the bill was “do not pass.” Kennedy speculated his bill may have fallen victim to political fallout resulting from the March 12 15-hour Democratic filibuster over Republican Gov. Matt Blunt’s $350 million college spending plan.

“Sometimes there will be somebody who doesn’t like it, but they won’t testify. They’ll just try to kill it. So I need to figure out if that was part of the equation, too. Talk about being totally flabbergasted … It was kind of a combination of just everything — wrong place, wrong time …,” he said.

Diehl told the Call he proposed the measure as an alternative to a property-tax increase and was disappointed with the committee’s action.

“… I think we just want to give south county voters alternatives to what has been done in the past because voters are tired of getting their property taxes raised all the time,” he said. “I am obviously unhappy that the Ways and Means Committee chose not to approve SB 540. I thought that the bill was very straightforward, and that it would have given voters in the Mehlville School District another option for funding our schools besides property taxes …”

Kennedy said he will try to add the sales-tax proposal as an amendment to another bill before the session’s end.