Politics
4:06 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Petition To End St. Louis Tax Incentives Delivered With Thousands Of Signatures

About 50 activists delivered a petition to the St. Louis Board of Elections on Wednesday, calling for the city to cut tax breaks from businesses involved in what they call “unsustainable energy production.”

The group marched with signs that said “Take Back St. Louis" and chanted things like "We will stand, we will fight, a greener city is our right!"

The petition was organized by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), and the group’s leaders say they have more than 36,000 signatures, which is well above the requirement for a ballot initiative.

The petition would force the city to end tax breaks for fossil fuel companies. One of the petitioners, David Scott, said he thinks money in tax breaks for coal companies could be better spent elsewhere.

“In a city where we’re also having problems with our pension for firemen and all sorts of budget problems, we shouldn’t give corporate welfare out to companies who are incinerating our planet with climate change,” Scott said.

Scott brought his two young children with him, and said that, for him, this is all about priorities.

“My priorities are all about their future. What’s a heat wave going to look like when they’re my age?" Scott said. "Because I know a heat wave didn’t look like 21 days of over 100 degrees like last year.”

But detractors question the wording of the petition -- that it doesn't limit itself to just fossil fuel companies. Jane Dueker, a consultant and lawyer, told the St. Louis Beacon that it would "shut down city government" and "would devastate the city of St. Louis."

Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay's Chief of Staff, told the Post-Dispatch that it was "an anarchist's dream."

The Board of Elections has 10 days to verify the number of petition-signers. MORE is aiming have it on the city ballot next year.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel