Tax would provide $500 million annually, create thousands of jobs
The Missouri Senate gave final approval to Sen. Dave Schatz’s (R-Sullivan) transportation funding package. The legislation, which would provide more than $500 million annually in additional funding for MODOT to put toward roads and bridges, now goes to the House for consideration.
“Investment in our transportation infrastructure is an investment in our future,” Schatz said. “Today, the Missouri Senate took a bold step to give Missouri a future of safer roads and bridges and more economic opportunities. They did the job their constituents elected them to do.”
HIGHER GAS TAX, BUT WITH A REBATE
Missouri currently underfunds its transportation system by more than $825 million annually, according to MoDOT. Schatz’s bill (SB 262) would narrow that gap by phasing in an increase in the gas tax by 2.5 cents each year over five years.
The legislation includes a rebate mechanism so that drivers who do not wish to pay the increase can get their money back. The legislation also phases in increased fees on electric vehicles.
‘A SMART COMPROMISE’
Sen. Doug Beck (D-Affton), a member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, said the rebate represents “a smart compromise” that will allow people unable to afford this small increase to recover their costs each year.
“One thing I hear about a lot from my constituents is the terrible condition of Missouri’s roads and bridges,” Beck said. “The reason for the poor state of Missouri’s transportation infrastructure is simple: we have a lot of roads and not a lot of funding. Missouri has the seventh-largest highway system in the nation, but ranks 49th in transportation funding.
“The reason Missouri sits at the bottom for transportation funding is because our roads and bridges are funded by our gas tax – which has not changed since 1996,” Beck said. “The cost of steel and concrete has gone up a lot since 1996, but the basic amount of money we have to purchase it has remained the same.”
This leaves lawmakers in a tough spot – take money away from schools and public safety to fix the state’s roads and bridges, or shore up the funding mechanism already in place.
“I don’t want to take money from our public schools or highway patrol,” Beck said. “I think the people that use the roads most – including out-of-state truckers – should pay their fair share in maintaining the roads they use. I don’t like taxes and I really don’t like tax increases. But I do like creating jobs and I really like safe highways. So, I’m willing to pay a few more pennies per gallon if it means our roads are safer by putting thousands of people to work fixing them.”