The Buzz

MoDOT chair endorses gas tax increase


Stephen Miller, the chairman of the Missouri Department of Transportation, is trumpeting a pair of small gas-tax increases as a way to allow the department to regain its financial footing.

In a column Wednesday, Miller of Kansas City pointed to a proposal from state Sen. Doug Libla, a Poplar Bluff Republican, that would “offer Missourians the first transportation funding increase in 20 years and break the cycle of lethargy that jeopardizes our prosperity.”

Under Libla’s bill, the state gas tax would jump 1.5 cents a gallon while diesel would rise 3.5 cents.

“Although this falls short of the $160 million needed to preserve our system, it would generate approximately $56 million for our state system (and $24 million for our cities and counties),” Miller said.

Miller also pointed to a House proposal from Rep. Keith English, a Florissant independent, that would increase all fuel taxes by 2 cents. The English plan would raise a little less than Libla’s bill.

Miller said Gov. Jay Nixon’s support for the Libla’s bill, which the governor announced on KCUR’s “Up to Date,” is a signal that a new dose of bipartisan cooperation appears to be engulfing the highway program.

“Transportation until the last few decades has always been a bi-partisan issue,” Miller said. “In the past, we found it easy to come together to promote the common good. There are signs that we may recapture those days.”

A slew of groups, including the Missouri Municipal League and the Missouri Association of Counties, have endorsed increases in transportation funding, Miller said.

“There will never be unanimity of support,” Miller said. “But as we prepare for a new year and new legislative session, the future of Missouri begins to look a little brighter just as our days begin to grow a little longer and the joy of the holiday season dawns.”