The Buzz

Lawsuit challenges ballot measure to raise sales tax to fund Missouri roads

Updated: 2013-11-25T22:42:29Z

By JASON HANCOCK

The Star’s Jefferson City correspondent

— Opponents of a proposed ballot initiative that would amend Missouri‘s constitution to raise the state’s sales tax by a penny to fund road and bridge construction filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the measure’s summary.

The lawsuit, filed in Cole Circuit Court by the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, alleges that the summary that would appear on the ballot, which was prepared by Secretary of State Jason Kander’s office, is “insufficient and unfair because it inadequately, unfairly, and prejudicially describes the purposes and legal impact of the ballot measure.”

The group argues that the summary inaccurately describes the size of the sales tax increase and blurs the distinction between two types of taxes — the sales tax and the use tax.

If supporters of the measure — ranging from highway contractors and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce to labor unions and the Missouri Farm Bureau — gather the required number of signatures, voters would be asked in November 2014 if they believe the state’s constitution should be amended to:

• Increase funding for state, county, and municipal street, road, bridge, highway, and public transportation initiatives by increasing state sales/use tax by 1 percent.

• Prohibit a change in gasoline taxes and prohibit toll roads or bridges

• Require those measures to be re-approved by voters every 10 years.

The Missouri Association for Social Welfare has argued that an increased sales tax is not the way to fund highway construction because it disproportionally affects lower-income individuals.

To reach Jason Hancock, call 573-634-3565 or send email to jhancock@kcstar.com.

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