Missouri rushes transportation sales tax to the ballot

05/29/2014 6:44 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon threw a curveball at road and transit planners last week. He placed a 10-year, three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation on the August ballot after lawmakers tentatively had assigned it to the November cycle.

This week, the groups that help set priorities for Kansas City area road and transit projects scrambled to propose projects that could be financed by the tax, if voters approve it.

That’s a big “if.” This is yet another regressive tax, piled on top of other sales taxes local communities have approved. Also, legislators refused to put a gasoline tax on the ballot, even though that user-pays model has been followed for decades, and Missouri has one of the nation’s lowest gas taxes. Plus, the state is asking for extra revenue right after lawmakers passed a tax cut that favors the wealthy.

The Mid-America Regional Council brought regional road and bridge experts together on Wednesday. They recommended funding for eight projects to cost an estimated $391 million in sales tax revenue over a decade. Problem: That’s roughly $100 million more than might be available. Replacing the Broadway Bridge could take about $150 million of that.

Transit planners are scheduled to meet today to firm up their priorities.

Along with Nixon’s decision last week, the transportation sales tax has the definite feeling of being rushed to voters.

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