The Buzz

Missouri lawmakers are unlikely to raise gas tax to pay for road repairs

Efforts in both the Missouri House and Senate to increase the gas tax have failed in the past week.
Efforts in both the Missouri House and Senate to increase the gas tax have failed in the past week. File photo

A push to increase Missouri’s gas tax for the first time in 20 years to pay for road and bridge repairs appears to have stalled for another year.

Faced with entrenched opposition to a bill boosting the gas tax by 2 cents, Missouri Senate leaders said last week that they were unlikely to bring the issue back up for debate before the legislature adjourns for the year May 15.

On Tuesday, a similar bill failed to garner enough votes to pass out of the House Transportation Committee.

Without a new funding stream, Missouri Department of Transportation officials have said the state faces a $160 million transportation funding shortfall that will result in only a quarter of the state’s 34,000 miles of roads getting proper upkeep moving forward.

Starting July 1, 2016, Missouri’s construction budget for transportation will drop to $325 million. It costs $485 million to maintain all of the state’s roads and bridges in their current condition without any improvements or expansion.

Consequently, the state will no longer be able to afford its required financial match in order to receive federal funding. That means those dollars will dry up.

The shortfall has been blamed on a number of factors, most notably an increase in construction costs and vehicle fuel efficiency in the 20 years since the gas tax was last increased to its current level of 17 cents per gallon.

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