$8 Billion Transportation Proposal Questioned By Some Mo. Senators | St. Louis Public Radio

$8 Billion Transportation Proposal Questioned By Some Mo. Senators

Mar 12, 2013

Some concerns have been raised in the Missouri Senate over a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a temporary one-cent sales tax to fund transportation needs.

The one-penny sales tax is expected to raise nearly $8 billion over ten years.  All money raised would go directly to the Missouri Dept. of Transportation (MoDOT), and that provision is not sitting well with some Senators.  Republican Kurt Schaefer of Columbia says lawmakers should have at least some say into how that money would be spent.

“I think MoDOT’s done a very good job in recent years of building its credibility," Schaefer said.  "But there simply needs to be some mechanism in there for oversight and accountability, and that’s what we’re working on right now, to see if we can’t get some provisions added in there that would provide greater protections for that taxpayer money.”

The sponsor, fellow Republican Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City, disagrees.  He says lawmakers should not be the ones making decisions on transportation projects.

“The process the Highway(s and Transportation) Commission use(s), they take input from communities all over the state," Kehoe said.  "They combine that input, along with the priority projects that the various planning partners from across the state have, and they’ll develop a list for voters to see before this would go to the ballot.”

The way Senate Joint Resolution 16 is currently structured, 10 percent of the nearly $8 billion raised would go to local governments, and roughly $1 billion would be used to expand I-70 to six lanes between Wentzville and Blue Springs.  The one-penny sales tax would expire in ten years unless voters renewed it, and existing highways could not be converted to toll roads.  The tax also could not be levied on groceries, medicine or fuel.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport