Citing decaying infrastructure in serious need of improvements and declining revenues from the existing gas tax, State Senator Mike Kehoe is pushing for a short-term one-cent sales tax to upgrade transportation systems.
Kehoe, who represents Miller and Morgan Counties in District 6, along with Senator Ryan McKenna, is sponsoring State Senate Joint Resolution 16 as a solution to ongoing funding problems for the state's transportation system. The tax would require voter approval and as written would sunset ten years after passage.
"This problem will not go away in time. Instead, it will get worse, and as it gets worse, it also becomes more expensive. With interest rates at all-time lows and with a labor market that is desperate for work, now is the time when Missourians will get the most value for their buck while at the same time putting Missourians back to work in good, high-paying, boots-on-the-ground jobs, an estimated 270,000 of which will come as a result of this $7.9 billion investment," Kehoe said in a statement issued last week. "The end result of which is tangible assets that the state owns and that provide a foundation for economic development going forward."
SJR16 provides for a limited-time investment in transportation infrastructure via a one-cent sales tax.
The tax would help offset declines in the gas tax and provide additional revenue.
Kehoe said there is substantial consensus that a one-cent sales tax is a viable solution for addressing Missouri’s growing transportation infrastructure needs.
Since filing SJR16, Kehoe said he has been asked why a use-based tax, such as an increased fuel-tax, is not a better, fairer option.
According to Kehoe, the gas tax was a reliable source of funding when gas was $1.50 to $2.50 per gallon and vehicles were not getting the gas mileage that they are now. However, the gas tax is now a broken model. With gas at $3 to $4 or more per gallon the amount of mileage being driven has dropped significantly.
Additionally, vehicles are now getting much better gas mileage than even a decade ago. The combination of the high price of gas and greater fuel efficiency ultimately results in less gas being purchased and less revenue from a gas tax.
"Gas tax revenues now cover only the very basic maintenance of the current system and do nothing to address necessary improvements to existing infrastructure. In order to generate the kind of revenue needed to adequately address transportation infrastructure, it would take a gas-tax increase of approximately $.35 per gallon," he said. "That would still be insufficient if current consumption models hold true into the future, and would fall woefully short if the price per gallon holds steady or increases, as it appears it will, and as manufacturers continue to respond to market demands and manufacture vehicles that get better mileage."
Page 2 of 2 - Rudy Farber, chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, said the funding measure could truly address Missouri’s transportation system needs for the next decade.
"Improvements made possible by the proposed one-cent sales/use tax would benefit every citizen. Safer highways, less congestion, and a stronger economy with more than a quarter-million supported jobs are to be expected should Missouri voters agree," Farber said.
Contact Kehoe at:
State Capitol Building
Jefferson City, MO 65101