Legislation filed to increase gas tax
COLUMBIA - Four state lawmakers have pre-filed legislation to raise Missouri's fuel tax in 2021.
The tax is currently 17 cents per gallon. This is the second-lowest tax in the nation.
Rep. Kip Kendrick's, D-Columbia, bill would increase the tax to 19 cents per gallon for 2021-2031. Then, the tax would decrease to 18 cents per gallon.
His bill also includes a $450 million bond measure. If it becomes law, MoDOT would use the $450 million to improve roads across the state. The additional $60 million annual revenue generated from the tax would go toward paying off the bond.
Kendrick said improvements to roads can't wait.
"Missouri roads and bridges need a lot of attention, and they need a significant amount of money," he said. "It's critical. Missouri has a long-term MoDOT funding issue that needs to be addressed."
The Hancock Amendment, a unique article in the Missouri Constitution, means voters normally see tax increases on the ballot. This is why voters saw Proposition D, which proposed a 10 cent increase, in 2018. But with Kendrick's bill, voters wouldn't have a direct say on making the bill law. The amount raised from the tax increase falls below the threshold established in the amendment.
Three other lawmakers have pre-filed fuel tax increases.
Rep. Joe Runions, D-Grandview, filed a bill that would raise the tax to 19 cents per gallon in 2021, 21 cents per gallon in 2022 and 23 cents per gallon in 2023.
Rep. Steve Butz's, D-St. Louis, bill would raise the tax by 10 cents over five years.
Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, filed a bill that would raise taxes on gasoline by two cents per gallon and the taxes on diesel by six cents in 2021. After that, the taxes would adjust each year for inflation.
All three bills fall above the Hancock Amendment threshold, which means they would appear on voter's ballots in 2020 if they pass the General Assembly.
Drivers in mid-Missouri have mixed feelings on the potential price hike.
"I don't like it," Cienna Cutler said. "I don't like having to pay more. I'm from Chicago, so our gas is way higher. I like what the gas is here, and I would not like to pay more." Cutler is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri.
Another driver said his support depends on the specifics of which, if any, measures pass.
"To me, it just depends on what it goes to," Clayton Newell said. "In the scheme of things, it's not going to make a huge dent in the pocketbook. If it's going to make a difference, then absolutely. But otherwise, obviously not."
One thing drivers agreed on was the state of roads in Missouri.
"They're terrible," Garrett Jones said. "There's certain holes where I have to know ahead of time to drive around them, or else I might lose a tire."
None of the bills will move forward until the General Assembly's session begins on January 8, 2020.