There certainly has been a lot of activity since the end of session. I cannot review all the activity from the past week in this report, but I can treat an important item per week for the next several weeks. This week I decided to consider the important issue of transportation.
Amendment 7: The Sales Tax for Roads
Transportation is vital to a modern society. We all drive to work, the store, to our various forms of entertainment, depend on trucks to deliver goods that we buy at our local stores, and the list goes on and on. However, maintaining and improving our system of public transportation, highly dependent on roads and highways, is a difficult challenge in our state. If you travel very much in Missouri, you know we have a lot of bridges, and bridges are very expensive. Also, the weather in Missouri keeps our asphalt surfaces under constant siege from the weather system and related elements. Keeping this expensive infrastructure in place consumed a great deal of debate time during our recent legislative session. In the end, the General Assembly developed a proposal that addresses needs and provides protection for Missouri taxpayers.
The General Assembly has placed a referendum on the ballot, and the Governor has assigned it to the August primary as Amendment 7, that would provide a ¾ cent sales tax for the support of road and highway improvements throughout the state. There are several features to this proposal that I will explain in some detail.
First, as mentioned, this is a proposal with many safeguards for the taxpayers of Missouri. The sales tax revenue is dedicated to road improvements. It is for 10 years only and will expire at the end of that period. The tax revenue will be shared between the Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and local entities. Finally, MoDOT is required to give Missourians a list of projects for the new revenue and to accomplish those tasks as designed.
Here are some of the more specific features of the proposal:
-- This sales tax will freeze the Missouri gas tax for the 10 year period it is in effect.
-- This sales tax will not be applied to medicine, groceries, or gasoline.
-- None of this money can be diverted to non-transportation projects.
-- Ten percent of the money will be shared with local entities.
-- All projects, state and local, require a plan that incorporates citizen input.
Overall, the referendum will provide $5.4 billion in new revenue for road improvements. For District 51 these improvements will include passing lanes for Highway 13 north of Warrensburg to I-70, improvements to the 765 (north Ohio Street) and 65 intersection, and the expansion of I-70 to six lanes across the state from Kansas City to St. Louis. This encompasses all of Saline County and will obviously impact Johnson and Pettis Counties with more traffic options.
Currently, citizen review and comments are being offered by MoDOT. You may find the plan, entitled Moving Forward, at http://www.modot.org/MovingForward/index.htm.
I sincerely hope you will take some time to review this plan, its impact on our district and local communities, ask further questions of me or others if you have them, and make an informed decision on August 5.
NOTE: The ballot language of Amendment 7 is currently under a court challenge, but the odds are it will appear without revision on the August 5 ballot.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City and Missouri. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.