If you look at our deteriorating infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, the answer is yes.
Gov. Mike Parson has proposed a plan for a state bond issue of $350 million to replace or repair about 250 bridges. The plan is stalled in the General Assembly, which really has not come up with an answer to the problem. Rep. Kip Kendrick, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called the governor’s plan a “nonstarter.”
Perhaps he should have said the Legislature on many issues is a “nonstarter.”
We don’t like to see more state debt but what other plan is there that would tend to the problem? We said tend because the bond issue would not solve the infrastructure needs.
Republican House Committee Chairman Cody Smith is pushing a program to set aside $100 million in general revenue each year for roads and bridges. That plan has the support of the Senate’s Conservative Caucus. It probably is a “nonstarter” and would only be a partial “fixer.” His plan would mean $100 million less for other state programs.
Missourians voted down a gasoline tax increase last year which would have been a partial “fixer.” The governor’s proposal would not require a tax hike to retire the bonds at the rate of $30 million a year over 15 years. The state would pay about $100 million in interest over that period.
Infrastructure is vital in economic development. We haven’t quite reached the backward status in that category but we are getting close.