A bill that would allow state residents to vote on a 1-cent transportation sales tax appears likely to pass the Missouri House, according to State Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan.
But the legislation may face challenges in the Senate.
If the bill passes, state residents would decide in November whether they want to approve raising the state sales tax by 1 cent for 10 years, Schatz said.
The money generated by the additional tax would go toward improving the state’s transportation infrastructure. The tax would not apply to the retail sale of food and medicine.
Locally, officials have said the tax could provide revenue for the Missouri Department of Transportation to widen Highway 47 between Washington and St. Clair.
Schatz said the Republican-controlled Legislature conducted a whip vote, or preliminary vote, and the results looked favorable to the legislation passing.
“We ended the vote with 100-plus votes in favor,” Schatz told The Missourian.
The final House vote is expected Tuesday, and it only needs 82 votes to pass.
“The Senate has some opposition, and hopefully we are getting this to them in a timely manner so we can work out those differences,” Schatz added.
Last year, the legislation was filibustered in the Senate in the waning days of the session. This year, the differences in the Senate are differences of opinion, Schatz said.
“We all agree that we need to give more funding to transportation,” Schatz said. “What we disagree on is where that money should come from. Folks believe that we should increase general revenue funding, others say the sales tax would work better.”
Officials estimate the tax increase would generate $7.9 billion over the decade it was in effect.
Of the money generated by the tax, 90 percent would head to the state level, while 10 percent would be allocated to cities and counties.
MoDOT officials say more transportation funding is needed as the gas tax, which has not been raised in 20 years, brings in less revenue since vehicles are now more fuel efficient.
Inflation and a loss of temporary funding are also cited by MoDOT as reasons for revenue shortages. The state’s current transportation system cannot be maintained due to the funding problems, a MoDOT report says.
MoDOT had $1.3 billion in road and bridge funding in 2009 and $746 million in 2013, the report adds. Officials estimate that MoDOT road and bridge funding will be $325 million unless additional revenue is located.
The legislation is titled House Joint Resolution 68.