Senate approves amended transportation funding measure

The Missouri Senate has given first round approval to a fuel tax increase.

Following Senate amendments, Senate Bill 540 would raise Missouri’s fuel tax by one-and-a-half cents. If it becomes law, the state’s fuel tax would be 18.5 cents per gallon. Diesel fuel would see a larger tax increase, going to 21.5 cents per gallon.

The amended bill also includes language that would establish the Building Missouri’s Future Board. The board would work to create more public-private partnerships in transportation. Another amendment would require any decision to create a privately-operated toll road in Missouri to be approved by the General Assembly.

The fuel tax increase at the center of the bill would allow Missouri to continue maintaining the state’s existing infrastructure—and continue to receive federal matching funds—while the state searches for a permanent transportation funding solution.

Senate Bill 540 is sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican from Poplar Bluff

As Senators debated the bill at the Capitol on April 30, the Missouri Department of Transportation hosted a press conference announcing the results of a new study by TRIP, a national research group.

TRIP’s data shows that Missouri’s current road conditions are costing the state $4.5 billion annually. This expense will likely continue to rise as road funding in Missouri continues to decrease.

“These conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Without additional transportation funding Missouri’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, the state will miss out on opportunities for economic growth and quality of life will suffer.”

The study noted that 22 percent of Missouri’s major roads and highways are in poor condition with an additional 48 percent of the state’s major roads are rated as mediocre or fair. Only 30 percent of Missouri roads are rated in good condition.

“Missouri has the seventh largest highway system in the nation, but ranks 46th in revenue spent per mile,” said MoDOT Chief Financial Officer Roberta Broeker, who will soon take over as the interim director. “That kind of underinvestment has consequences, including an impact to safety and economic growth. While we are committed to do the best we can with limited resources, we know the condition of our system will deteriorate without additional investment.”

For more information about transportation issues, contact Brian Bunten, Missouri Chamber general counsel and director of governmental affairs, at bbunten@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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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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