Transportation Sales Tax Up For Debate

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JEFFERSON CITY - With the state legislative session in its final stages, the House of Representatives met Wednesday to discuss a proposed sales tax increase that would bring $550 million to statewide road improvements.

The House originally passed the bill, which would have raised the state sales tax by once cent.  But the Senate changed the House's version, making the increase only three-quarters of a cent.

This revision meant it has to be passed in the House again.  But after a recent $620 million tax cut for businesses, many Democrats began rescinding support of the bill.

Rep. Stephen Webber of Columbia said the tax cut would make a sales tax increase harmful for the middle class.

"After the tax cut for businesses, raising the sales tax on everything that people buy would disproportionately hurt the middle class," Webber said, "and so this bill would represent a shifting of the tax burden away from businesses and onto middle class workers."

But Republicans, who sponsored the original bill, still believe the revenue brought in by the bill is worth the compromise.

"The three-quarter cent [increase] will still accomplish a lot of our transportation goals, and so I think that's a good compromise that the senate worked out, and I think the house will live with that compromise," Rep. Bart Korman said.

If passed by the House, voters would still have to approve the increase before it goes into effect.  The state legislative session ends Friday.