Timing of elections on issues of great interest certainly is a factor in what the outcomes may be. The issue out front is the proposed three-quarter-cent sales tax proposal for transportation that the General Assembly agreed to put on the ballot. For a while, with some lawmakers, it appeared placing it on the ballot to let voters decide somehow would indicate a vote in favor of the tax. However, most of the lawmakers did the correct thing — let the voters decide.
Since it was up to the governor to decide when to vote on the tax this year — August or November — Jay Nixon decided it should be in the August primary election. Since the governor hasn’t said how he will vote, and many believe he will vote no, speculation has been running hotter than an Arizona brushfire that he selected August believing it will have a greater chance of failure in that election.
Surprise at the August election date was expressed by Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy and Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer, both proponents of the tax because passage would enhance chances of adding additional lanes to Highway 47 between Washington and St. Clair, and, perhaps, on other state projects in this area.
Griesheimer is one of the officials who questioned the August date. He wondered if the governor had an ulterior motive in placing the issue on the August ballot. He was quoted in The Missourian that he was “shocked” by the governor’s action. Griesheimer is a Republican and Nixon is a Democrat. Even though they are from opposite political sides, the two have had a friendly relationship that was built when Griesheimer was in the General Assembly.
It has been reported from several sources that state leaders in the effort to pass the tax aren’t that upset with the August election. With about two months to mount a campaign, they reportedly believe that is enough time to tell their story. We agree. We favor the tax and aren’t bent out of shape by the governor’s action.
Which would be the better time to vote on this issue — August or November? We all know the voter turnout will be the strongest in November. Will a lower turnout of voters in August enhance chances of passing the tax? No one knows the answer. However, if proponents can “get out the voters” in August, it would seem the issue will have a good chance of being approved. Waiting until a November election, would a larger turnout of voters doom the tax? Again who really knows!
The outcome will be determined by which side can convince voters of their positions. We believe proponents have a strong story to tell to convince voters of the need for more revenue for transportation in Missouri. Even opponents agree additional revenue is needed to meet demands. They just don’t like the sales tax route even if prescription drugs and food at retail will be exempt from the tax.
We hear daily about job creation. The projects the state will be able to do with the added revenue will result in additional jobs.
We reject the idea of increasing the gasoline tax to bring in more revenue. That route won’t produce enough revenue to improve the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (Mo-
DOT) finances. Vehicles are getting better mileage from gasoline these days and that trend is here to stay. We like the idea of a user tax but an increase in the gasoline tax simply won’t produce enough revenue.
MoDOT will have a list of potential improvement projects to provide to voters prior to the election. That is absolutely necessary!
Knowing we could be wrong, we believe August is the best time to vote on the tax increase if proponents are effective.