The Missouri House Passes Transportation Sales Tax Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House of Representatives passed the transportation sales tax bill this afternoon.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Hinson, includes a three-quarter-cent sales tax to help with the state's infrastructure. This means, on an item that is $1, there will be a five cents tax instead of the 4.52 cents there is right now.

"It will be on all products that are sold in the state excluding food and prescription drugs over a 10 year period," Hinson said.

Half way through the 10 year period, the house and senate will come together as a joint committee to review MoDOT's projects and make sure it's using that money correctly.

Also, within those 10 years there are two provisions the general assembly must follow: It can't raise the fuel tax and there can't be toll bridges on highways or bridges during the time period.

This sales tax would also give more money to MoDOT after a drastic decrease in funding in the last several years.

"Over the past five years, MoDOT's budget has gone down from $1.2 billion a year to about $750 million dollars," Hinson said. "They've done everything fiscally responsible so they can continue to finance the infrastructure."

To adjust to the new budget, MoDOT has made several cuts. Along with selling thousands of pieces of equipment, it's also had to close down maintenance sheds and offices and reduce its number of employees.

However, this isn't the end to the slashes in funding for the organization. It's projected that by 2017, the budget of $750 million dollars will decrease to $325 million dollars a year. 

With the new estimated budget by 2017 the organization will be unable to get more federal funding. Currently, about 44 percent of its funding comes from the federal government.

The first areas that would see the impact would be in the rural communities where MoDOT would start pulling away from roads that aren't traveled on very often. It would begin with letter routes, move to numerical routes and ultimately effect the conditions on major highways. 

Hinson said MoDOT is planning to release a list on the locations that need infrastructure work to let voters see what needs to be fixed and why this is important. It will also be on the November ballot for Missouri residents to vote on.