There always are defeats that are difficult to stomach in every election. With disappointments in any and everything, especially elections, a person has to move on and remain optimistic about the future.
Proposition D’s defeat was hard to digest in Tuesday’s election. It had plenty of support in the way of endorsements, from the governor on down to the guy and gal on the street. Its defeat was close with more than a million yes votes. The loss statewide was by less than 175,000 votes.
The final unofficial tally was 1,068,469 yes votes and 1,238,107 no votes.
When over a million voters got the message on the need for an increase in the state gasoline tax, the supporters can take some satisfaction in the total yes vote. The ballot language was confusing. The next time a gasoline tax is before voters, more direct ballot wording is needed.
Missouri remains the second lowest state in the country with a gasoline tax at 17 cents. Only Alaska has a lower gasoline tax.
What does this mean for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)? It will have to do the best it can do with limited funding, much less than is needed to maintain and improve our roads and bridges. MoDOT is just getting by and has to do a tough balancing act in setting priorities.
In Franklin County, Prop D lost with 19,379 yes votes and 23,036 no votes.
The Warren County vote was 6,246 yes and 7,579 no voters.
Prop D also lost in Gasconade County with 2,675 yes votes and 3,574 no votes. In Crawford County, it took a hit, with 2,906 yes votes and 5,456 no votes.
St. Louis County did not support Prop D — there were 184,798 yes ballots and 205,281 no ballots. But St. Louis City voters said yes on 57,971 ballots and no on 52,883 ballots.
It’s a setback for local projects all over the state. The No. 1 road issue in Franklin County is Highway 47 from Washington to St. Clair. The need for four lanes has been apparent for some time. MoDOT is well aware of the need. There was no guarantee but passage of Prop D undoubtedly would have given speed to a plan to improve 47.
We strongly believe the issue should be put on the ballot again. It was close enough to warrant another submission to voters. The ballot language needs to be cleaned up — make it simple and direct for roads and bridges.
The timing was not good since tax bills arrived around Election Day, but that couldn’t be helped.
Roads, bridges, airports are so important in economic development. For the betterment of the state, we need to face up to our needs in transportation.