ROADS/BRIDGES: Mo. stuck after voters reject sales-tax increase

Lawmakers are not sure which way to turn to increase future road and bridge funding

News August 12, 2014
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The taxpayers have spoken, and now the politicians are stuttering.
A few days after a proposal to raise the sales tax three-fourths of one cent was defeated loud and clear in Missouri, those in power were not sure what next step to take. The increase would have generated $5.4 billion over the next 10 years, with most of the money going to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to take care of an aging road and bridge network. MoDOT’s budget sits at about $1 billion this year, but takes a nosedive in 2015 and 2016.
Supporters of the sales-tax increase generated a staggering $4 million for campaign efforts, and many are saying it will be years before a similar proposal is put on the ballot.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and transit stakeholders will meet this month to discuss the next move. Oregon is experimenting with a mileage-based user fee, but lawmakers in Missouri do not think the idea will go over well in their state. State Sen. Mike Kehoe believes voters might be willing to pass a package deal, like one that includes a smaller sales tax increase and a slight raise in the gas tax.
“We’ve got to have the table wide open for any suggestion that’s out there,” he said. “We’ve got to find something that’s palatable to the voters.”

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