Missouri lawmakers know they must find a remedy to the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, but Gov. Eric Greitens says raising the gas tax is not the solution.
State Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, has filed a bill to raise the state tax on gasoline by 10 cents and diesel by 12 cents per gallon at the recommendation of the 21st Century Transportation Task Force.
At a Missouri Press Association luncheon last week, Greitens said he is not in favor of increasing the tax but instead touted a $163 million increase in transportation funding in his recent budget also released last week.
“I’m disappointed,” Schatz said. “He’s known about this problem since he got elected, but he continues to kick the can down the road.”
Schatz, who chairs the Senate transportation committee, said he is further disheartened because Greitens not only says “no” to the task force’s recommendation, but hasn’t come up with his own plan to fix the roads either.
Greitens added he is optimistic about what he is hearing at the federal level about transportation and President Trump’s infrastructure plans, which were released earlier this week.
Schatz said the state can’t rely solely on federal funds to fix the ongoing problems and if no new money is coming in, they need to look at ways to save inside.
Currently the Legislature is in the process of taking the Highway Patrol out from under the transportation budget, but a new tax will be needed for funding there as well.
Schatz added he will move forward with the legislation despite the governor’s opposition and it will be crafted in a way to circumvent Greitens and let the people decide.
“We would most likely do it as a Senate or House Joint Resolution so it goes on the ballot,” Schatz said. “We need 51 percent of the people to approve it, but right now, polling doesn’t look good.”
Missouri’s fuel tax rate was last increased by the Missouri General Assembly in 1992, when it was incrementally raised over four years to 17 cents per gallon.
According to MoDOT, the largest source of Missouri’s transportation revenue is from the federal government.
That is primarily derived from Missouri’s share of the nation’s 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and 24.4-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel fuel.
It also includes various highway user fees and other grants. The federal fuel tax last changed in 1993.
Revenues also are received from state sources. The largest source of state revenue is from the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax.
MoDOT also receives a 9-cent-per-gallon tax on aviation fuel and a share of vehicle and driver licensing fees, as well as sales and use taxes on motor vehicle purchases and leases.
Fuel tax, license fees and motor vehicle sales tax revenue may only be used on the state’s roads and bridges, per the Missouri Constitution.