Committee Voices Support for Transportation Tax

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects.

The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. It was adopted by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday with a 6-1 vote.

If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. The tax is estimated to generate $800 million annually and $8 billion over its 10-year lifespan.

The lone “no” vote on the Senate panel was Republican Sen. John Lamping, who led the fight against similar legislation last year. He says Republicans are sending a mixed message by raising sales taxes, while also passing an income tax cut this year.

Supporters say the tax is necessary for Missouri to maintain its highway system.

Meanwhile, a group of local officials called the Highway 47 Corridor Committee plans to make the Senate aware of its support for the tax.

The committee Thursday directed Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer to draft a letter to express the group’s support of the tax.

Griesheimer said he supports allowing the state’s residents to vote on whether they want to impose the tax on themselves.

“People have to decide whether they want to maintain the roads or not,” he said.

The revenue from the tax could possibly go toward widening Highway 47 between Washington and St. Clair, officials have said.

There are always going to be a small number of people in the Legislature opposed to such measures, he said.

But Griesheimer said the tyranny of the minority cannot hold up the wishes of the majority.

If a senator wants to try and filibuster the bill, then he or she can talk until collapse, Griesheimer added.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, the agency will not have enough revenue to maintain the existing system.

“There has to be additional revenue from somewhere,” Griesheimer said.

There must be a sustainable revenue stream, which means some type of tax increase, Griesheimer added.