Transportation funding measure halted in Senate

 A bill to provide a temporary fix to the state’s impending transportation funding shortfall appears to have stalled out on the floor of the Missouri Senate.

Following hours of debate on Senate Bill 540, a group of Senators opposing the legislation refused to allow the bill to come to a vote.

Senate Bill 540 proposes an increase to the state’s fuel tax to ensure Missouri has adequate funding to maintain the state’s infrastructure. During the Senate discussion, the tax increase was lessened from what was proposed in the original bill. The current version of Senate Bill 540 would increase the fuel tax by two cents to 19.3 cents per gallon.

“Fuel taxes are still, in my opinion, the best and most reliable form of revenue,” said bill sponsor Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican from Poplar Bluff. “It’s user pay. And what I like about it also is its pay as you go.”

Sen. Libla said his bill would allow Missouri to continue receiving critical matching funding from the federal government, giving state lawmakers time to continue searching for a permanent funding solution.

“In 2014, Missouri sent to the federal government over $826 million (in fuel taxes) and we desperately need to get some of this back,” said Sen. Libla. “The 4/1 match of state dollars needs to be returned for our construction needs. Missouri will no longer be able to match any of these dollars after 2017 without this revenue increase.”

Despite these arguments, some of Sen. Libla’s Senate colleagues spent hours delaying the bill, eventually causing Senate Bill 540 to be set aside without a vote.

The Senate inaction is another setback as Missouri leaders seek to identify a fix for the state’s quickly-approaching transportation funding crisis. Without a legislative solution, Missouri’s transportation budget will shrink to $325 million in 2017. The proposed 2017 budget would lead to a majority of Missouri’s roads facing deteriorating conditions. Without a funding solution, some bridges may eventually have to close.

Missouri business leaders are clearly concerned about the future of our state’s transportation system. In fact, only 37 percent of Missouri business leaders say they are satisfied with the state’s current network of roads and bridges, according to a recent Gallup survey commissioned by the Missouri Chamber.

The Missouri Chamber’s Missouri 2030 plan calls for urgency in developing a true solution to fund improvements to our transportation system. Learn more about the plan at http://www.mo2030.com.

For more information about transportation issues, contact Missouri Chamber General Counsel and Director of Governmental Affairs Brian Bunten at bbunten@mochamber.com or by phone at 573.634.3511.

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About mochamber

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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