September 7, 2020
Dear Editor or to whom it may concern,
There are several communities in Missouri which have attempted to pass an internet sales tax. Some of those bids have been successful, some have not.
If your community has an internet sales tax on the ballot in November, I am going to urge you to vote yes to support it.
Here is why.
Online sales account for three percent of the total sales of goods in America. That’s over $200 billion a year. With the advent of COVID19, that has only increased dramatically. On the other hand, brick and mortar stores are on the decline because of a variety of factors. Again, COVID19 has really hurt them.
I urge everyone to continue to support the businesses, especially the small businesses, in your community because they are the backbone of local economies. Not only do I urge you to continue to support them, but especially support your local Mom and Pop stores. Chain stores have their place, but the truth is much of the revenue they generate goes out of your community and even out of our state to their corporate headquarters. The revenue from local, independent businesses, however, keep that revenue local to provide fuel for our local economies.
That being said, though, without an internet sales tax in every community, local governments are missing out on a growing source of revenue to help fund their essential local services.
And here is another reason to pass an internet sales tax.
Missouri desperately needs rural broadband internet service, but lawmakers and voters keep asking, “But how do we fund it?”
COVID19 has reshuffled the deck on everything. It has shown how essential high speed internet service is to every pillar of our system. Without rural broadband, schools do not have the option of long distance learning. Without rural broadband, businesses cannot move forward. Without rural broadband, rural residents cannot take advantage of the growing online health services which have become necessary.
And there is this.
Because of the quarantines ordered because of COVID19, many major companies have shifted the way they manage their employees. Several major corporations have made working from home a permanent option for their employees. They’ve found worker productivity goes up, their costs go down, and employees report a greater level of job satisfaction because of a better work/family balance.
When people think of telecommuters, they often picture those employees as working in a city enjoying a cup of latte at their local coffee shop.
But…what if those same telecommuters finally had the option of moving back to small town and rural Missouri because they no longer have to live in the city? It present lots of advantages to them. They get to make a big city salary, and live a less-expensive, more relaxed lifestyle.
Who wouldn’t choose a home on the relaxing Current River over staying in New York City?
This could be a huge boom for our real estate sales and for our rural economies as people choose this new option.
This also presents new opportunities for education.
To allow our own kids to thrive in this new tech-driven economy, they need better skills.
One of the things I saw in the Columbia Public Schools that I really liked were their “Maker Centers” where kids got to apply their STEM skills to real world projects. They could actually build robots. They could actually write computer programs.
How about if we create local “Makers Centers” for our kids?
Where would the money come from?
Hmmm. How about an internet sales tax? Use tech to create tech.
So do you see the opportunity that could be before us?
We could actually end Brain Drain. Our kids could actually have the option of staying right here in Southern Missouri for the rest of their lives, helping us to rebuild our declining communities and economies.
We could actually experience a Rural Renaissance. Passing that internet use tax could be the first step. So, I urge you to think of tax as an investment. It is time to invest in our communities so we have a future.
Missouri Senate District 33