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Lobbyist says Missouri lawmakers didn't spend enough on highways

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By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – At least one lobbyist is not satisfied with the amount of money Missouri lawmakers allocated to the 2009 state budget, specifically for transportation.

Christen Jackson represents the Missouri Transportation and Development Council, which is a division of Associated Industries of Missouri.

Associated Industries lobbies on behalf of business and industry interests.

Jackson says she's concerned lawmakers are ignoring a looming funding shortfall for the state's highways that's due to arrive in 2010.

"Why did a lot of things not happen this session? It was term limits, the governor chose not to run for re-election, (and) we're facing a crisis in our economy," Jackson said.

But House Transportation Committee Chair Neal St. Onge (R, Ballwin) says state leaders need to first decide what kind of transportation system they want before they spend money on it.

"We have to have a game plan before we can say, 'Here's how much money we need,' or, 'here's how we're (going to) raise the money,'...we don't know yet exactly what we're planning on doing," St. Onge said.

A constitutional amendment passed in 2004, known as Amendment 3, provided extra highway funding, but it is set to expire in two years.

MoDOT's road construction program is currently being funded at $1.2 billion.

When Amendment 3 expires in 2010, road spending is expected to drop to about $569 million.

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