Missouri lawmakers vote to add 10-cent fuel tax increase question to November ballot

May 21, 2018

Keith Goble

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Missouri voters could soon get to decide whether they want to tax themselves to help cover transportation-related costs.

The state’s Department of Transportation has said there is an $825 million gap in annual road and bridge funding. In an effort to help address the issue, the Missouri General Assembly has agreed to give voters the final say on whether the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax should be increased by a dime.

The tax rate has remained unchanged since 1996.

Passage in the final hours of the legislative session sends the tax increase bill to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk. If approved there, the question would be added to the November statewide ballot in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment.

The legislative action follows the advice of a 23-member task force of state officials and private citizens who earlier this year released transportation funding recommendations to the General Assembly. Among the options touted by the group was raising the state’s fuel tax rate by 10 cents for gas and 12 cents for diesel.

If approved by voters, the state’s fuel tax rate would increase by 2.5-cent increments over four years. The tax rate would be raised to 27 cents by July 2022.

Taxes on alternative fuels would also be raised to 27 cents by 2026.

The state’s fuel tax pays for road and bridge work, but it also supports the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The bill, HB1460, calls for routing new revenue from the tax increase into a fund dedicated to troopers.

Advocates say the change will free up revenues from the current tax rate that are routed to the Highway Patrol to instead be applied for roads and bridges.

Among the concerns voiced by opponents is the amount of the tax increase, and taking the decision about how much tax revenue the Highway Patrol receives out of the hands of lawmakers.

When fully implemented, the state estimates the rate increase would raise $293 million annually for DOT-operated roads and $128 million for local roads.

Truck groups in the state support efforts to raise revenue for transportation work. OOIDA and the Missouri Trucking Association, however, have called for any tax rate increase to be applied evenly for motorists and truck drivers.

OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek has said his group believes increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable way to generate additional revenue. He adds that a fuel tax increase is the only realistic option for the state.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.

WWWilliams

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.