Missouri Chamber of Commerce Urges Congressional Action on Transportation Issues

Recently, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce joined 30 other state chambers of commerce in calling on Congress to act on critical transportation infrastructure. Congress currently faces a crossroads as they begin to discuss both the solvency of the Federal Highway Trust Fund and the reauthorization of the surface transportation bill passed in 2012.

The letter has been sent to Senator Barbara Boxer, who is chairman of the Senate Transportation committee, along with other ranking members.

“Improving road safety, funding the remediation and expansion of bridges, expanding freight and logistics infrastructure and providing good public transportation are near-universal values. We encourage our elected officials in Washington to take a thoughtful approach to our federal and state transportation challenges. Ultimately, transportation infrastructure should bring us together, not divide us. It is our hope that the rhetoric in coming months will change to a constructive dialogue about how we can create a transportation system for generations to come,” Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber President said.

The Missouri Chamber has been a lead proponent in finding ways to improve infrastructure funding in Missouri and is supportive of transportation legislation that is working its way through the Missouri Capitol.

The letter can be found on the website of the Council of State Chambers at www.statechamberconnect.org. The principles agreed upon by the coalition of state chambers across the United States urges Congressional action that focuses on financial solvency, marketplace stability through long term authorization, and flexibility for state transportation programs.

For more information about this letter or transportation issues, please call the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry at 573-634-3511.

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Senator seeks to let Missourians vote on transportation funding

In a matter of years, Missouri’s Department of Transportation will no longer be able to maintain the state’s broad transportation system. Sen. Mike Kehoe is working to solve this problem with a proposal to let Missouri voters decide whether to create a new temporary one cent sales tax to help fund transportation needs.

Just a few years ago, the transportation department had a $1.3 billion budget. Already today, it’s half that. By 2017, Sen. Kehoe says dwindling transportation funding will leave the department with just $350 million to spend per year. That’s not enough to maintain the state’s current transportation assets.

“All of the sudden, you are going to be working with one fourth of the revenue resources than you were,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us to try to replace some of those dollars to try to keep the system maintained.”

The transportation tax proposal is contained in Senate Joint Resolution 48, sponsored by Sen. Kehoe, a Republican from Jefferson City. A similar proposal in the House, House Joint Resolution 68, is sponsored by Dave Hinson, a Republican from St. Clair.

The proposal has been passed by a Senate committee and awaits a vote on the Senate floor. In addition, it must be approved by the House before the end of the session. Three weeks remain before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

Sen. Kehoe said that having a strong transportation system is an important tool for economic development. Without a new transportation funding plan, Missouri’s development efforts could face new hurdles.

“I believe our transportation infrastructure and economic development go hand in glove,” Sen. Kehoe said. “It is absolutely essential to a state’s economy to not only have a reliable transportation system but also to have the ability to expand to meet the needs of businesses and manufactures that want to expand in our state and want to move to our state.”

The Missouri Chamber supports efforts to ensure we have a strong transportation system.

For more information on transportation issues contact Jay Atkins, Missouri Chamber general counsel, at jatkins@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.