Property tax hike on city ballot would fund early childhood support services | Education

According to the emails, Dodson preferred to call the ballot measure Proposition C, for child. Advocates pushed Proposition R for the Ready By Five campaign led by WePower.

In St. Louis County, the campaign was for a half-cent economic development sales tax on the November ballot to raise $80 million annually. The state statute regulating the tax funds allowed for infrastructure expenditures in or outside of the county without requiring that any be spent on early childhood education. The bill’s sponsor, County Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy, dropped the initiative in August before the council could vote on it.

Ray Cummings, president of American Federation of Teachers Local 420, said he’s concerned the nonprofits behind the city’s campaign will dictate the funding or circle it back to themselves.

“I think the community needs to understand there’s more to it than trying to help kids. It’s who’s behind the curtain,” he said.

Prop R funding

The Ready by Five campaign, which has registered two political action committees, raised $156,406 in a July 22 fundraiser that was not reported to the Missouri Ethics Commission. Maxine Clark, treasurer of one of the committees, said in August that the money would be reported to the state.

Saunders of WePower said the fundraiser was not for political activities and the money went to the First Step to Equity Fund hosted by the St. Louis Community Foundation, a nonprofit that manages charitable donations. The First Step to Equity partners include WePower, IFF and SouthSide Early Childhood Center, nonprofit groups that were involved in crafting the ballot measures and promoting the Ready By Five and Proposition R campaigns.

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