Missouri $8 billion transportation tax moves ahead

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A push to raise about $8 billion during the next decade for Missouri transportation work continues to advance at the statehouse. It would also prohibit lawmakers from approving tolls or a fuel tax increase.

The House Transportation Committee voted to advance a 10-year, one-cent general sales tax to benefit transportation projects throughout the state. Senate lawmakers already endorsed the plan on a 24-10 vote.

Senate Joint Resolution 16 is estimated to raise $800 million a year in new revenue.

Supporters say the tax would allow the state to have and maintain safe and reliable transportation infrastructure.

If approved, 10 percent of the new revenue would be split between cities and counties for local projects. A protection would also be included to prevent revenue from the tax being diverted away from transportation.

Officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation say that a portion of the new revenue would be used to fund a bond program for improvements along a 200-mile stretch of I-70. Specifically, plans call for adding third lanes for traffic from Wentzville near St. Louis to Blue Springs outside of Kansas City.

The resolution would also prohibit charging highway users to drive on existing roadways.

Talk of tolling Interstate 70 has been a topic in Jefferson City for at least the past decade.

The Senate resolution would also prohibit state lawmakers from increasing the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax without voter approval.

Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, told lawmakers during recent discussion on the measure that highway accessibility is the most important factor in the state’s economic development.

“If we want to continue to draw economic development to Missouri, we need to take care of our infrastructure,” Wallingford said.

If the full House endorses SJR16, it would move back to the Senate for approval of changes. It would then advance to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

The public would get the final say during the November 2014 election. Renewing the tax after 10 years would also require voter approval.

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

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