A panel appointed by the Missouri House to study the state’s transportation needs released its final report today, one day before the start of the 2013 legislative session.
It states that Missouri needs an additional $600 million to $1 billion a year – for several years – to maintain roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. The report lays out several options for meeting that gap, but doesn’t recommend any specific funding methods. Retired Democratic State Senator Bill McKenna co-chaired the Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri's Transportation Needs. He says some of the options won’t appeal to the Republican majority.
“We had some folks that wanted to see high(er) fuel taxes, other folks that wanted to see sales taxes, (and) some folks were talking about tolls," McKenna said. "We wanted to lay everything out and let the legislature decide.”
McKenna says personally he’d prefer a dedicated sales tax to help pay for Missouri’s transportation needs. However, Republican House Speaker Tim Jones (R, Eureka) says he prefers options that won’t raise taxes.
“I believe there’s plenty of government that can still be cut," Jones said. "We’re faced every year with an ever increasing bloat(ed) entitlement system, and I’d rather spend the money on education, roads and bridges, and less on entitlements.”
Jones was in attendance at the Blue Ribbon panel's press conference at the State Capitol. He also indicated that he’d be willing to cut Medicaid in order to insure the state’s transportation needs are met. The panel was created by former House Speaker Steven Tilley (R, Perryville).
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