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.

Advertisements

Missouri Chamber applauds House and Senate transportation investment proposals

Two pieces of legislation that would provide critical funding for Missouri’s transportation system moved another step further in the legislative process. The Missouri Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Joint Resolution 48, sponsored by Sen. Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City), and House Joint Resolution 68, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson (R-St. Clair). Both bills propose a one cent sales tax to raise revenue for the Missouri Department of Transportation and, if passed, would be put on the November ballot for a vote of the people.

The Missouri Chamber strongly supports both bills.

The key facts about these resolutions include:

  • The resolutions would create a ten-year, one cent sales tax on all items except medicine, groceries, and gasoline. If the tax is not renewed in ten years, it will automatically expire.
  • The proposal will raise about $790 million per year.
  • MoDOT will create a list of projects they will build with the funding, and provide an annual report of projects.
  • The proposal will require approval by the General Assembly, then go to a popular vote.
  • The proposal will include a constitutional amendment, and the money raised will be earmarked solely for transportation.

“If Missouri is to remain competitive, we have to make moves to invest in our transportation infrastructure,” said Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber. “It is the very foundation of commerce and economic growth. We can’t drive our economy into the future with crumbling roads beneath our wheels.”

“We have a transportation funding problem right now,” Rep. Hinson testified. “Especially in rural areas we need to widen the shoulders and make the roads safer. The fuel tax is declining and not where it should be. If we were to raise the fuel tax it would be around 25 cents per gallon, and I don’t think the voters want that. We need to find a way to fund these projects to make our roadways safe, and this proposal could do that.”

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