Just off the Plaza in Kansas City this morning, around 35 folks attended the annual shareholder meeting of Great Plains Energy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L). We attended as (real) shareholders to deliver a simple message: While KCP&L executives hit the 99 Percent with rate hikes and give themselves raises, they need to pay their fair share of taxes. During the meeting, upset shareholders delivered a tax bill to Great Plains for $368M that the rest of us will have to make up to fund our public systems and structures.
The facts are these:
- Great Plains Energy made $517 million in profit and paid zero US Federal income taxes from 2008-2010. Meanwhile, Great Plains executives – and their lobbyists – raked in millions.
- Great Plains Energy not only paid zero in US federal income taxes, but also received a $39.5 million refund, a negative 5% tax rate, over 3 years.
- In 2009 and 2010, Great Plains also avoided all state income taxes and received refunds totaling more than $5 million.
- Meanwhile, Great Plains executives raked in $31.5 million from 2008 to 2010. Great Plains CEO Michael Chesser collected $11.9 million.
The most powerful moment of the whole morning (for me) actually came after the organized shareholders were escorted from the room. As the last shouting shareholder left, a man who identified himself as a Great Plains/KCP&L shareholder since "age five” complained about the disruption of the meeting, but then took outgoing CEO Michael Chesser and incoming CEO Terry Bassham to task for their exorbitant, ever-growing compensation packages while shareholders saw smaller dividends and consumers saw higher rates. Minutes later, an angry senior unsatisfied with the CEOs’ answer asked the question again – why do the 1% keep getting richer when the 99% fall further behind?
That is the question, isn’t it?
Here’s some video of the scene outside the shareholder meeting: