Vote YES on Prop D for Missouri roads
By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
Overland, MO — Hundreds of people –– some in suits, some in hardhats –– filled Clayco Construction Company’s headquarters Oct. 19 to rally support for the Proposition D gas tax to repair and replace Missouri’s crumbling roads and bridges.
Prop D will be on the general election ballot Nov. 6.
The politically and culturally diverse mix of Republicans and Democrats, executives and trades men and women were in agreement on one thing: decades of underfunding have left Missouri with an inadequate, inefficient and potentially dangerous transportation network, with deteriorating roads and bridges holding back economic development and endangering driver safety.
Proposition D, if approved, will raise the state gas tax by 2.5 cents per gallon per year for four years, for a total hike of 10 cents by July 2022.
“Prop D is the first step in getting things done in Missouri,” said Brandon Flinn, business manager for the Eastern Missouri Laborers District Council. “It will improve safety and provide a steady source of funding.”
Union laborers take great pride in the work they do on the roads in the state of Missouri, Flinn said, but so many have fallen in disrepair bridges are falling down and roads are crumbling.
“The message is simple, ‘Vote Yes on Prop D,’” Flinn said. “It’s about infrastructure and workforce development. It’s best for Missouri, and that’s why I urge you to support Prop D. It’s been a long time since Missouri has seen a gasoline tax increase.”
A HISTORIC GATHERING
In a show of bipartisan support and a demonstration of just how dire the need has become, the Oct. 19 rally included union workers mingling with corporate executives, Republican Governor Mike Parson talking with local Labor leaders, the mayors Florissant, Overland, Black Jack, Northwoods and other places and representatives from the St. Louis County Council.
The rally was part of a 13-day tour by Gov. Parson, in support of the SaferMO.com campaign in support of Prop D.
If approved, Parson said Prop D will cost someone who drives an average of 12,000 miles a year about $1.25 more per month under the proposed tax.
“I’m with Labor,” Parson said in stark contrast to his predecessor, who spent the entirety of his abbreviated term trying to bust labor unions in Missouri. “People will build and we’ll have an improved infrastructure and workforce.”
Gov. Parson said Prop D will help facilitate his goals to prioritize workforce development and infrastructure during his tenure as governor.
Missouri’s interstates were originally built in the mid-1950s. Missouri has added 6,000 miles of new highway, Parson said, but work is desperately needed on reconstruction and expansion.
Almost 900 of the state’s roughly 10,400 bridges are rated in poor condition. The American Society of Civil Engineers has given the state an overall infrastructure grade of C minus.
Interstate 70 in particular is badly in need of reconstruction and expansion.
Of the 10,000 bridges in Missouri, Parson said, 1,000 are in poor condition. Some have nets under them to catch falling debris, Parson said.
“The reality is we’ve got a problem,” Parson said, noting that he is the only governor he knows who would support a tax increase. But it has to be done, he said.
Parson recognized the union leaders and building and construction trades members in the crowd, thanking them and urging them to not only vote “Yes” on Prop D, but to encourage others to do the same.
“We’re going to be working our tail end off here,” Parson said of the campaign. “And I want you to do the same. Are you willing to go out there and tell others how important this is to the state?”
PROP D FACTS AND NUMBERS
• Prop D will generate at least $288 million annually to the State Road Fund to provide funding for Missouri state law enforcement and $123 million annually to local governments to pay for road construction and maintenance.
• The Missouri Highway Patrol is already funded through the state gasoline tax. Voting YES on Prop D means Missouri law enforcement will have the funding needed to be well equipped to protect drivers and respond to accidents, and will free up more than $400 million annually that can be used for local and state roads and bridges.
• The St Louis region would receive an estimated $224 million annually.
Missouri has the 7th largest highway system in the country, but is 49th in the nation in funding those roads, only above Alaska.
• Missouri ranks near the bottom nationally in motor fuel taxes – 49th in the nation, with a 17 cents per gallon motor fuel tax, and 46th in the nation in revenue spent per mile. Missouri has the seventh largest highway system in the nation, but the motor fuel tax has not been raised since 1996.
• The average motorist in Missouri drives 12,000-15,000 miles a year. At that rate, the tax increase would cost drivers about $1.25 per month.
• More than 20 percent of the funds raised through Prop D would come from out-of-state travelers.