Special election will be held for sales tax increase to benefit medical research

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Behind every bottle of medicine is years of research.

In November, Jackson County, Mo., voters will decide if they want to pay for such research to happen right here in Kansas City with an increase in the sales tax.

Kite Singleton wasn't enthusiastic to hear about a vote of increasing the Jackson County sales tax but that's because he had a proposal to raise it a cent.

"The board met and was very concerned there was a possibility of removing $40 million of revenue that a half cent sales tax would produce," Singleton said of the KC Regional Transit Alliance.

Monday, Jackson County legislators voted to put the Translational Medical Research Tax on the November ballot.

The tax is expected to raise $800 million over 20 years.

Lynda Bonewald does this kind of work now for the University of Missouri Kansas City and supports the tax.

"In the laboratory I make a discovery and I make a discovery that no one else has ever seen before and then my job is to figure out how I can turn that into a treatment or an application or medical device for a patient," Bonewald said.

Supporters say this will create jobs and make Kansas City an international hub for medical research.

But others feel local taxpayers shouldn't have to pay the bill.

"We have about all we can afford just to take care of the bad guys and the health monies we spend now," Jackson County Legislator Bob Spence said.

The University of Florida patented Gatorade and has seen billions of dollars because of the discovery.

The hope is some device or drug created because of this research will bring in millions.  As part of the plan, if passed, Jackson County would get 20 percent of the revenue.

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