Pain at the Pump Hits the Roads
JEFFERSON CITY - MoDOT said in a blog post Tuesday, the agency doesn't like high gas prices any more than drivers. Missouri's state fuel tax is 17 cents per gallon (for gas and diesel) no matter if gas is 1 dollar or 50 dollars a gallon. Missouri fuel taxes haven't increased since 1996. Here is an excerpt from the blog post by MoDOT,
"The fact that Missouri ranks low for fuel taxes is why gas prices in the Show-Me State are also some of the lowest in the country."
MoDOT receives 12.45 cents of the 17 cents per gallon of gas purchased (local governments receive the remaining 4.55 cents per gallon). That totals approximately $500 million a year from the state fuel tax. The federal fuel tax rates are 18.4 cents on gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel. MoDOT said the price Missourians pay at the pump comes from four different costs: 65 percent crude oil, 15 percent refining, 10 percent distribution and marketing, and 10 percent federal and state taxes.
MoDOT public relations coordinator Jorma Duran said higher gas prices hurt MoDOT because as prices rise, people buy less, which can decrease MoDOT's funds. Missouri ranks 42nd for fuel taxes to maintain the 7th largest highway system in America.
"People may not spend as much on gas and what does that do, it lessens the amount of money we end up receiving which potentially in the future, may mean less projects and less maintenance," said Duran.
But MU economics professor Joe Haslag said MoDOT does not have much to worry about in the short term.
"It will take time for people to adjust to the rising gas prices, and in the long run MoDOT will deal with the same problems as everyone else effected by gas prices,"Haslag said.
Duran said the fuel tax in Missouri cannot change unless voters approve an increase. He also said MoDOT is mostly worried about maintenance and funds due to budget cuts put forth by Gov. Nixon.