Let Us Vote on It - The Missourian: Opinion

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Let Us Vote on It

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Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013 6:27 pm

We agree with State Rep. Dave Schatz that putting money into the state’s roads and bridges is a “smart investment” in jobs and the economy.

Schatz made the comment in an interview last week with The Missourian.

Schatz, and fellow local Republican representative Dave Hinson, have been leading the charge to pass a bill that would put a 1-cent transportation tax on the ballot for Missouri voters to decide.

The tax would be for 10 years and would generate an estimated $800 million annually in new revenue. It would be the primary revenue generator to address much needed improvements to our state’s transportation infrastructure — specifically the repairing and rebuilding of roads and bridges.

The new revenue would be shared with cities and counties for their local transportation systems and a portion of it would be used to finance the rebuilding of Interstate 70.

The tax is needed due to decreased funding from the federal government for state transportation projects. MoDOT’s current construction budget has dwindled to the point where it doesn’t have the resources to do much beyond maintaining existing roads. The realization is setting in here and in other states that increased funding at the federal level is increasingly unlikely. If we want to move forward with needed transportation projects we are going to have to take matters into our own hands.

The Senate has already passed the transportation tax measure. With one week to go in the session, time is running out on getting it passed in the House.

There is no debate over the need for additional transportation revenue. What’s needed is leadership.

As Schatz pointed out, some politicians are concerned that if the bill passes it could become a campaign issue because some will associate the tax increase with the Legislature — even though citizens would ultimately decide whether to tax themselves.

This illustrates how ridiculous things have gotten with government. To be clear, this isn’t the first time politics has gotten in the way of solving problems. But all Hinson and Schatz want is to put the question on the ballot for the voters to decide.

When the session started we heard a lot of talk from legislators about creating jobs. As Hinson pointed out, this is the only jobs bill that has a chance of actually putting people to work.

One of the key factors that new businesses look to when considering a new location is the region’s transportation infrastructure. Our state’s infrastructure needs some help.

We hope the House leadership puts this bill to a vote next week. We believe that if given all the facts, the citizens of our state will vote to approve the tax and improve our state’s roads and bridges.

All we are asking is for the legislators to give the people that opportunity.

/opinion

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