Transportation Tax Debated

A 1-cent transportation sales tax proposed in the Legislature may be running out of gas, but a new proposal may be coming around the bend.

The 1-cent transportation sales tax that has been debated in the Legislature may not make it to the House floor.

Therefore, a new proposal is being “circulated,” said State Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan.

Instead of the 1-cent transportation tax, which would be levied for 10 years, there could be a new plan to charge a three-quarter cent tax for 15 years, said Schatz, who is the chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

The 1-cent tax has already been approved in the Senate, but it has stalled in the House.

House Speaker Tim Jones has said that he would not bring it to the House floor unless 82 of the Republican Caucus members support it.

The Washington Area Highway and Transportation Committee Monday voted to send a letter in support of a transportation tax to legislators from Franklin and Warren Counties. Committee members also said the letter would be sent to Jones and the governor.

Schatz said Jones has not “fully embraced” the legislation.

The bill itself would not put the tax on the books, but just put the measure on the ballot for the public to decide. It would likely go on the ballot in November 2014.

Since the voters would decide whether the tax should be levied, Schatz said he does not see it as a tax increase.

Under the 10-year, 1-cent proposal, about $7.9 billion would be generated over the decade.

Schatz said it appears that the three-quarter cent tax would generate more revenue.

Something must be done to bring more revenue to the state’s ailing roads and bridges, Schatz said. The state cannot even maintain its current infrastructure let alone build new assets, he said.

Schatz noted that the state is seeing diminishing revenue from the fuel tax because of more gas-efficient cars.

A four-lane Highway 47 from Washington to St. Clair would be an improvement to be considered if a transportation sales tax is approved.

Missouri will be a better place for business if it has improved roads and bridges, Schatz said.

With its session ending May 17, the Legislature is running out of time to pass the bill.