For and against proposed sales tax to fund medical research - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Those for and against proposed sales tax to fund medical research speak out

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Emily Mallette and David Westbrook (front row) are among those who support Question 1, saying the modern-day research will benefit many. Emily Mallette and David Westbrook (front row) are among those who support Question 1, saying the modern-day research will benefit many.
Jim Fitzpatrick is one of many against Question 1, saying, while medical research is important, it shouldn't be publicly funded. Jim Fitzpatrick is one of many against Question 1, saying, while medical research is important, it shouldn't be publicly funded.
JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -

In twelve days voters will decide on a sales tax increase in Jackson County to fund medical research.

Leading up to the vote, people who support and are against the sales tax increase are sharing their stories.

One special girl featured in an advertisement is probably also one of the youngest advocates for the tax. The Question 1 campaign funded the ad featuring Emily Mallette, a 17-year-old Lee's Summit, MO, girl who is battling juvenile glaucoma.

"I was having trouble seeing the board at school and I failed the vision test at the health fair at the elementary school," she said.

Mallette is the example of modern-day research on a much older disease that has taken sight from people like David Westbrook.

"There's only one reason why Emily can see and why I cannot. And the reason why I cannot see and she can is because of research," he said.

Westbrook is one of the leading proponents for the Translational Medical Research Tax. It would raise $40 million a year for two decades for Jackson County patients to get first dibs on medical research that would happen on Hospital Hill, the neighborhood located from 22nd to 25th Street and Gillham Road to Troost Avenue and housing such places as Truman Medical Center and Children's Mercy Hospital.

It would equal an $800 million project over 20 years.

"This is all about expanding medical services and research so that Kansas City can have access to the kind of care that sometimes you have to go elsewhere to get," Westbrook said.

Mallette has received all her treatment in Kansas City and would not go without should Question 1 fail, but she said that kind of research in her backyard gives her more hope for a long-term solution.

The tax would make parts of Jackson County the highest taxes areas in the nation and a strong opposition is voicing their concerns with how the worthy cause is being funded.

Jim Fitzpatrick has spent thousands of dollars of his own money spreading the word against Question 1.

"This is the worst proposal, worst tax proposal I have seen since I arrived in Kansas City," he said.

The half-cent sales tax would pay for the Translational Medical Research Facility.

"I don't think it's going to translate down to good-paying middle-level paying jobs for average people," Fitzpatrick said.

He and groups like Stop a Bad Cure said medical research is important, but shouldn't be publicly funded.

"They're trying to sell an issue, medical research, they're not trying to sell a tax increase. But I'm here to tell you, when it goes on the ballot and you read it on the ballot, it's a tax increase," Fitzpatrick said.

It is an increase that would specifically make parts of Kansas City among the highest taxed in the area.

Jackson County residents will vote on Nov. 5. If passed, the campaign will refund the $850,000 it costs taxpayers to hold the special election.

Proponents for the tax said it would mean an economic boost of hundreds of millions of dollars over the span of two decades.

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