Missouri $8 billion transportation tax bill derailed

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/21/2013

A push to raise about $8 billion during the next decade for Missouri transportation work was derailed in the waning hours of the legislative session.

State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, pulled his bill from consideration after a handful of his colleagues filibustered to prevent a vote on the bill to raise $800 million a year in new revenue. Voters would have been given the final say on the 10-year, one-cent general sales tax to benefit transportation projects throughout the state.

Kehoe said that months of public hearings showed that residents throughout the state recognize that something is needed to address the state’s transportation funding needs, including improvements along Interstate 70.

“Let the people decide. The fact that citizens apparently will not get the ability to exercise their voice is beyond comprehension,” Kehoe told lawmakers before withdrawing his bill from consideration.

Opponents said that tax advocates would be better served to pursue an initiative petition to get the issue on the ballot.

The Missouri Senate previously approved Senate Joint Resolution 16 on a 24-10 vote. House lawmakers later endorsed the effort on a 100-57 vote, but minor changes made in the chamber required one final Senate vote before it could move to the governor’s desk.

The resolution called for splitting 10 percent of the new revenue between cities and counties for local projects. A protection was included to prevent revenue from the tax being diverted away from transportation.

SJR16 also prohibited state lawmakers from increasing the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax without voter approval and it prohibited 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.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said it’s commendable that lawmakers are getting away from previous talks to add tolls to I-70.

“Our highways were built with dedicated resources from fuel taxes, and that remains the best way to move forward,” Spencer said. “Fuel taxes have not been raised in Missouri since 1992 and Missouri motorists and tourists are now paying the price for more than two decades of our lawmakers ducking responsibility for improvements.”

Spencer also said it’s important to ensure that all funds raised for transportation purposes are used solely for highways and bridges.

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

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