Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is calling for state highway officials to examine the possibility of imposing tolls on parts of Interstate 70 – and to report back to him before the end of this month.
In a letter sent Tuesday, the governor told the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission that he wanted them to report by Dec. 31 on “analyzing and providing options for utilizing tolls to improve and expand I-70 and to free up resources for road and bridge projects throughout the state.”
Nixon noted that the newest parts of I-70 in Missouri “are 50 years old.”
Mayor Francis Slay speaks at Citizens for Modern Transit's (CMT) annual lunch on Friday, September 12, 2014. Seated left to right are CMT Director Kimberly Cella, St. Clair Board Chair Mark Kern and MoDOT Director Dave Nichols.
Citizens for Modern Transit has been advocating for public transportation in the St. Louis region for thirty years. But at a lunch last week celebrating its anniversary, the focus was on the future. Keynote speakers included Missouri Department of Transportation Director Dave Nichols, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern.
While in St. Louis Saturday to give the commencement address for the Missouri branch of the online school Western Governors University, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon refused to take responsibility for last week’s failure of Amendment 7. The ballot measure would have raised sales taxes by three-quarters of a percent for ten years in order to raise money for bridges, roads and public transportation.
Gov. Jay Nixon may be the primary reason a proposed transportation sales tax failed this week at the polls, according to one political expert.
George Connor, political science professor at Missouri State University in Springfield, says the governor's decision to place the 0.75 percent sales tax on the August primary ballot likely doomed it to failure because most of the state's primary races drew in GOP voters.
Missouri transportation leaders are looking to regroup following voters' overwhelming rejection of a proposed sales tax to fund road and bridge improvements on Tuesday.
Despite supporters spending millions, the measure lost by roughly 58 percent to 41 percent. And it lost across the state -- in St. Louis, St. Louis County, the Kansas City area and even in rural parts of the state. In St. Louis and St. Louis County, the measure went down by a 2-to-1 margin.
It was an early night for most of the amendments, but the farm interests had to stay up late. Shortly after midnight, unofficial state returns showed Amendment 1, the "right to farm" proposal, winning by 2,528 votes. That was a a margin of only about one-quarter of 1 percent, which is close enough to entitle the opposition to a recount.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting in statewide, Amendment 1 passed with 498,751 votes, or 50.127 percent. The "no" votes came in at 496,223, or 49.873 percent.
Missourians decisively rejected a sales tax increase earmarked for transportation projects, making for a striking defeat for a well-financed campaign from proponents and a victory for an ideologically diverse opposition coalition.
The tax – commonly known as “Amendment 7” or the “transportation tax” – would have raised Missouri’s sales tax by 0.75 percent for 10 years. It would have also barred Missouri's policymakers from instituting tolls or raising the state’s gas tax during that same time period.
By any conceivable measure, Missouri doesn’t have a particularly robust election cycle this year. But that doesn't mean that there aren't lessons to learn.
Even though this year's primary season featured fewer contested races than usual, the past few months still produced twists, turns and surprises. That’s especially true because a number of ballot initiatives were placed on the August ballot, making up for a relative dearth of competitive legislative contests.