Turnout may affect Missouri transportation sales tax vote

06/16/2014 11:02 AM

06/16/2014 11:02 AM

Missouri officials will have a tough time selling voters on a statewide sales tax to improve roads.

Constitutional Amendment 7 will be on the Aug. 5 ballot, seeking a 10-year, three-quarter-cent sales tax for transportation. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon already has come out against it. The sales tax is regressive, hurting low-income people more than others.

But the fuel tax has been generating less revenue because of the fuel efficiency of today’s cars and trucks. The decline in revenue from it is certain to continue.

So state officials are trying to make the transportation sales tax proposal more appealing by planning to fund projects that will have a higher general population appeal. One is to make Interstate 70 at least three lanes wide in both directions from Kansas City to St. Louis.

That’s attractive for those of us who make that drive often between the state’s two largest cities or to attend Tigers’ games at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The road improvements also will sound good for people who use I-70 to go to the Lake of the Ozarks for fun.

But for everyone else, the I-70 improvements won’t carry much traction. The ballot proposal’s fate will depend on the turnout. If the number of people voting is heavy, it’s doomed.

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