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Fuel tax bill to fund transportation heard in Senate committee

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As the legislature looks at many approaches to increasing road and bridge funding, Sen. Doug Libla, a. Republican from Poplar Bluff, brought one possible option before a Senate committee on March 14.

Libla’s Senate Bill 430 would raise the state’s fuel tax to a total of 23 cents per gallon over three years, in 2-cent increments. After that, the tax would be adjusted annually for inflation. This increase amount would fall within Missouri’s limits for raising taxes without putting the measure on a ballot, allowing the legislature and the governor to enact the change without waiting until the next election.

Libla gave examples of how 23 years of inflation have eroded the purchasing power of Missouri’s current fuel tax since it was last adjusted.

“When MoDOT bought a dump truck back in 1995, they were about $45,000. In 2019, it’s $152,000,” he said.

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna testified in support of the bill.

“The value of the gas tax today, 17 cents, is approximately 8 cents compared to the purchasing power in 1996, the last time the motor fuel rate was increased,” he said.

McKenna said that currently, the department is only able to fund approximately half of the transportation system’s needs and has accumulated about $8.5 billion of unfunded needs.

“That will have an impact negatively on the economy of this state and our ability to compete with our neighbors in the 21st century,” said McKenna.

With the state’s transportation funding currently ranking 48th in the nation in revenue per mile, the Missouri Chamber remains a leading proponent for finding a solution. Improving the state’s infrastructure is one of the main drivers of the Missouri Chamber’s Missouri 2030 strategic initiative.

“The Missouri Chamber has supported all efforts to increase transportation and infrastructure funding. This is one great way to do that,” Missouri Chamber Director of Legislative Affairs Ross Lien said.

Other transportation funding ideas the legislature is exploring include:

  • Gov. Parson’s bonding proposal to use $351 million to repair 250 bridges.
  • A House bill increasing the fuel tax to a total of 27 cents over five years.
  • Allocating some of the state’s general revenue to roads and bridges.

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