Missouri Senate approves sales tax increase for transportation

Missouri senators on Wednesday endorsed a proposed penny sales tax increase that could raise nearly $8 billion over a decade for transportation projects.

The increase would require voter approval and, if passed, would be resubmitted to the ballot after 10 years so Missourians could decide whether to continue it.

Sen. Mike Kehoe, who served on the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission before joining the legislature, said the state needs to boost transportation funding and options are limited. He said the gas tax would need to rise 20 to 25 cents to generate equivalent revenue.

He said the measure could support as many as 270,000 jobs in Missouri over a decade.

The sales tax proposal was given first-round approval Wednesday and needs another affirmative vote before moving to the House. A House committee has embraced a similar measure, but Speaker Tim Jones has said he would prefer that a sales tax increase be revenue-neutral.

Under the Senate measure, 10 percent of the revenue would go to cities and counties. When the sales tax is in effect, voter approval would be needed to change the gasoline tax rate or place tolls on existing roads and bridges.