CHICAGO — Jackson County, Mo. voters last week overwhelmingly rejected a sales tax hike aimed at raising $800 million over the next two decades to fund the establishment of a new research institute.

Supporters had promoted the institute as a means to establish the Kansas City region as a national research hub and boost the local economy while its detractors argued the project should not rely on tax dollars.

The tax would have funded cutting-edge "translational" research to search for disease cures and develop new drugs. It was to be led by Saint Luke's Hospital, Children's Mercy Hospital, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and others. Some of the funds were also earmarked for community colleges' research training programs.

More than 80% of voters rejected the measure. The half-cent sales tax increase was projected to raise about $40 million annually.

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