Every business in Missouri relies on our state’s transportation infrastructure. Regardless of their industry, businesses need to ship goods, receive inventory or supplies and recruit employees from surrounding areas. Because of this, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry board of directors has voted to endorse Amendment 7 and is asking Missourians to vote “yes” on August 5.
The Missouri Chamber, transportation leaders and state lawmakers have been working together for years to find a solution to a major shortfall in future transportation funding. By 2017, it’s estimated that funding for the Missouri Department of Transportation will drop to $325 million. At that level, department leaders have warned that they won’t be able to maintain the state’s existing infrastructure. The new sales tax is designed to provide the funding needed to maintain and improve Missouri’s transportation system.
“Transportation funding in Missouri is at a near crisis point and it’s time for us to act,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “Make no mistake; it’s never easy to pass a tax increase. But our state is at a moment when we can’t afford to do otherwise. Our transportation system needs this investment or else we will face crumbling infrastructure—to the detriment of our employers and our economy.”
Amendment 7 would create a three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation. It was put on the ballot when the Missouri legislature passed House Joint Resolution 68, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson, a Republican from St. Clair. A similar resolution was filed in the Senate by Sen. Mike Kehoe, a Republican from Jefferson City.
“Amendment 7 would help Missouri equitably meet future transportation needs through this broad sales tax,” Mehan said. “Every citizen in Missouri, whether an active driver or not, benefits from a strong transportation infrastructure. Every citizen uses our roads to get to school, travel to work, or by having access to vital food and products that are shipped via our highways to Missouri stores every hour of every day. That’s why this approach makes more sense than a gas tax or tolling, which only affects a portion of the population.”
Mehan said that doubling the gas tax or increasing the diesel tax by 400 percent are not feasible solutions.
“To raise $480 million annually for transportation, either the diesel tax would go from .17 cents to .90 cents per gallon or the gas tax paid by everyone would need to double to .35 cents per gallon. This would harm Missouri’s working families and hurt the state’s economy,” Mehan said.
In addition, Mehan added, those solutions would ignore many aspects of a comprehensive transportation plan, because fuel taxes are constitutionally limited to funding road projects.
The Missouri Chamber is asking business leaders statewide to help educate their communities about the importance of the transportation system to the future of our economy.
“When we work to sell Missouri to expanding companies, transportation is one of the areas where Missouri does extremely well. This is, in part, due to the natural advantages we have with our central location and our access to both the Missouri and Mississippi rivers,” said Mehan. “Yet, if we allow our transportation investments to crumble and become neglected, we will lose this benefit of doing business in Missouri. Let’s vote yes on August 5 and ensure we don’t miss an opportunity to keep Missouri’s transportation system open for business.”