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Missouri lawmakers surveying residents on how they want to pay for transportation needs

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A group of lawmakers is conducting an online survey on the best way to pay for Missouri's transportation needs.

While one legislative task force is touring the state to hear ideas about upgrading Missouri’s roads and bridges, another group of lawmakers is using an online survey to determine the best way to pay for it all.

Rep. Jeff Messenger, R-Republic, chairs the House Policy Development Caucus, which he said was formed to study “hard and difficult situations” in Missouri — including paying for transportation improvements.

The caucus began by getting feedback at public meetings during the summer. Then it launched the online survey, proposing several scenarios for funding transportation needs. Messenger said so far three options are getting the most positive responses.

At the top is raising the cost of license plates, driver’s licenses, and other transportation-related user fees.

“About 73 percent of the people (surveyed to date) feel like that is a good way to generate revenue to pass on to the Department of Transportation,” he said.

Perhaps surprisingly, the second most popular survey choice is a toll road proposal — although it differs from past suggestions. It would only toll motorists as they enter Missouri from one or more interstate highways – while people already in Missouri won’t have to pay.

“We’ll have to pass some legislation allowing MoDOT to take that idea to the federal government, and then the federal government (would) make a decision on whether or not they’ll allow us to do that,” Messenger said.

About 30 percent of those surveyed so far say they’d support raising the state’s fuel tax, which at 17.3 cents a gallon is one of the lowest in the nation. Past attempts to get gas tax hikes through the legislature have failed.

Other options proposed by the House Policy Development Caucus include raising the state’s general sales tax, transferring “low volume state roads” back to local governments, and increasing fines for violating Missouri’s open container law.

Those wanting to take the survey can find it here.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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