Vote Yes on Prop A

Melissa Freilich | Op-Ed Submission

You hear it over and over. Prop A will hurt the poor. And like many other ridiculous statements, when it’s said often enough, it begins to sound true.

The term “regressive tax” has been bandied about a lot lately. Yes, a sales tax is “regressive.” But wait, read on! That’s not the whole story, as the erroneously named Citizens for Better Transit (CBT) would have you believe. There are two more things you need to know.

1) Metro is asking for a half-cent sales tax, a nickel per $10. A sales tax is the only tax funding available for Metro. CBT claims that Metro has state and federal funding. The truth is that, while other states fund an average of 23 percent of public transit expenses, Missouri funds less than 1 percent. Metro currently has additional state funding, but that is a temporary bailout to mitigate the devastating effects of the failure of Prop M last year. That money runs out this summer. A sales tax is the only way to keep Metro going.

2) Not passing Prop A would be FAR WORSE for working people. People with lower incomes are more likely to make the sound economic decision to save $7,500 a year by not owning a car. Ask any of the Bon Appétit employees wearing an “I Ride Metro to Work” pin whether they’d rather pay that nickel per $10 or give up their ability to get to work. Metro takes people to work, Metro employs people, Metro fuels economic growth. Every prosperous metropolitan area in the world has a well-funded public transit system.

It could not be clearer that Prop A is good for everyone in St. Louis. So why does CBT continue to claim that Prop A is bad for poor people? There is a simple answer; they don’t believe their own arguments.

Opponents of Prop A use this argument not because they buy it, but because they think students will. The real reason CBT opposes this tax is because they oppose taxes in general. They know that opposing all taxes won’t gather much of a following on the Wash. U. campus. But calling the tax “regressive,” and saying that Washington University is “callous toward the poor,” now that’s exciting and inflammatory even though it’s not true. I would respect CBT’s efforts far more if they were willing to give us their real reasons for opposing Prop A. So, CBT, argue your case honestly. But don’t make inflammatory statements, don’t try to defend untenable positions, don’t make arguments that you yourself don’t believe, don’t attack Chancellor Wrighton for being civic-minded, and DON’T tell me that I hate the poor if I support public transit.

And Wash. U., don’t swallow their lies. Educate yourself and base your vote tomorrow on facts, not propaganda. Vote “yes” on Prop A.


Melissa is a freshman in Arts & Sciences. She can be reached via e-mail at mfreilich@wustl.edu.