State road funding plan falters in Missouri

| 6/13/2008

A legislative proposal to amend the Missouri Constitution will have to wait until next year. It sought to increase funding for highways without increasing tax rates.

Sponsored by Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield, the joint resolution – SJR43 – failed to come up for consideration on the Senate floor before the regular session ended last month.

Loudon said he sought the amendment because of concern about long-term funding options in the state due to an expected hit in future federal funding. To combat the problem, his measure called for earmarking 10 percent of state revenue growth each year for roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

That money now pays for services that include schools and mental health services. Roads are funded with fuel, vehicle and license tag fees.

Using 2008 as the base year, Loudon said the plan would send $36 million to transportation in 2010. Funds would grow to more than $1.3 billion by 2030.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Transportation also warn that transportation funding “falls off a cliff” in 2010. At that time, funding is expected to drop from $1.2 billion annually to about $570 million because the state will start repaying bonds approved by voters in 2004 that are being used for road and bridge work.

Loudon’s plan would have sent 95 percent of new revenue to roads and bridges. Transit would have claimed 5 percent.

Projects tabbed as likely to benefit from the plan included a $3.5 billion rebuild of Interstate 70 from Independence, MO, to Lake Saint Louis, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The effort can be renewed during the 2009 regular session. Pending approval by the General Assembly and governor, the proposal would go before voters.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor