Senator Says Transportation Sales Tax Needs Oversight
JEFFERSON CITY - A Columbia senator said Tuesday the proposed sales tax for transportation infrastructure could be abused too easily.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said the proposal's lack of limitations on what the money could be used for concerned him. Schaefer said he agreed with the idea of keeping the legislature out of the project approval process, but the legislature should be able to ensure the tax revenue is spent the way it is intended.
The proposal calls for a one-cent sales tax increase to pay for transportation. If voters approve the measure, it would come up for a new popular vote every ten years. The proposal does not specify what specific projects the revenue could be used for, a move co-sponsor Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said he made on purpose. On the senate floor, Kehoe defended the proposal's loose language, saying it was one of the things Missourians have said they like the most about the proposal. He added that by the time the proposal reaches a ballot, Missourians would have had a chance to examine MoDOT's list of project ideas. Kehoe told KOMU 8 News he was willing to modify his proposal to ensure MoDOT's existing oversight mechanisms have additional power to control how the money is spent.
Several senators said they agree with Schaefer, including Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis. Keaveny told KOMU 8 News the legislature shouldn't decide whether to approve projects, but he doesn't want to walk away from the issue for ten years if the voters approve it. Keaveny said he would like to ensure 15 percent of the revenue goes to multi-modal transportation methods such as rail and airports.