Money Train: Pro-Proposition M Fundraising Squashes the Opposition

Supporters of Proposition M unveiled a new Internet campaign yesterday designed to get St. Louis County voters to the polls November 4. The group behind the website, the newly formed Greater St. Louis Transit Alliance, is an offshoot of the nonprofit entity Citizens for Modern Transit and at least the third advocacy group now supplying money and efforts to Proposition M.

www.metrostlouis.org
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The Proposition M ballot initiative would boost the sales tax by one-half cent in St. Louis County to pay for future MetroLink expansion. If the measure fails, Metro projects it will experience a $45.9 million budget shortfall and be forced to scale back its bus and MetroLink service.

The Transit Alliance's website (moremetrolink.com) features downloadable brochures, transportation statistics and environmental statements in support of the initiative. The organization has also funded several testimonial videos available through YouTube.

"The alliance allows us to do grassroots political campaigning that we cannot do as a registered not-for-profit organization," says Tom Shrout, executive director for Citizens for Modern Transit. "Our issue is to get people educated, and the website does a great job of informing people on the issue."

Shrout says the Transit Alliance has raised approximately $39,000 to date from individual and corporate supporters, such as BJC Healthcare, Focus St. Louis and the St. Louis RCGA. That money comes in addition to funds raised through Citizens for Better Transportation, the group originally formed to spearhead Proposition M.

Citizens for Better Transportation reported this week that it has raised more than $254,000 toward the campaign, with Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis Rams and Washington University each donating thousands of dollars within just the past few days.

Meanwhile, the Public Transit Accountability Project -- the lone group organized in opposition to Prop M -- reports that it has raised less than $500 in its effort to defeat the measure. Tom Sullivan, treasurer of that agency, says the organization decided early on to run a "low-budget" campaign.

"We're here to remind voters of everything Metro and its backers are excluding from their campaign, including the cost overruns of the Shrewsbury MetroLink extension and the failed lawsuit that cost millions of dollars," says Sullivan. "And despite all their money, we're confident we are still getting our message out there."

- Chad Garrison



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