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Park and Soil Tax Up For Renewal in Missouri

October 8, 1996
By: Jennifer Horton
State Capital Bureau
On November fifth, Amendment eight will be on your list of issues to vote either for or against. But do you know what Amendment eight is and whether it's good for Missouri? If you care about Missouri state parks, you will want to. Jennifer Horton examines both sides of the issue from the state capital.
Story:Jennifer Horton
OutCue: SOC
Amendment eight is a tax extension. If passed, it will allow Missouri's Department of Natural Resources to continue to collect a lot of money. At least 57 million dollars a year. The money will continue to be used for state park funding and soil conservation efforts through a one-tenth of one cent sales tax.

David Shorr is the Director of Missouri's Department of Natural Resources.

He says the tax, which gives state park and soil conservationprograms about 28.5 million dollars each, is vital to the state.

Actuality:David Shorr
OutCue: "down the rivers"
Contents: People have been able to see a great improvement in the state of Missouri's parks and soil conservation efforts as a result of the money this tax generates.
Shorr says without the tax, Missouri's state parks would lose virtually all funding and the erosion rate of the state's soil would rise significantly.

But the park and soil tax renewal is not cut and dry.

St. Louis senator Bill Clay strongly opposes the tax.

Actuality:Bill Clay
OutCue: "and failed"
Contents: At this point in time we feel there needs to be a redistribution of the revenues. We tried to redistribute it through the legislature and failed.
Clay says some of the tax money should be given to other areas. Actuality:Clay
OutCue: "local parks"
Contents: We need to give the money to local parks which also contribute to Missouri.
Clay says Forrest Park is one place that draws millions of visitors to Missouri each year but receives none of the money this tax collects because it is not a local park.

However, Forrest Park does receive some of the funds.

Kennedy Forrest, a state forest, is located inside the 12- hundred acre park and is given a portion of the state tax money.

Still, Clay says this is not enough.

OutCue: "big deal"
Contents: Ok so it gets a tiny amount of the money for the state forest, but big deal, it is not enough.

Clay insists that because the soil conservation program is doing so well in Missouri, the money would serve Missouri better in other areas.

Shorr acknowledges the opposition, but says the money is used to the benefit of all Missouri citizens.

Actuality:David Shorr
OutCue: "long way to go"
Contents: You will hear that the money does not help urban citizens. Yet he knows of no place in Missouri that does not get it's drinking water from the Missouri river or other Missouri bodies of water. Without the soil conservation program this tax provides, the water quality will go down in Missouri.

Despite his opposition to Shorr's comments, Bill Clay admits that he believes the tax will pass.

No one, he says, will want to vote against state parks.

For KBIA's Capital Edition, I'm Jennifer Horton.