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AAA magazine endorses sales tax proposal in Missouri for transportation

A tractor trailer travels in the northbound lane of Interstate 49 near Carthage, Mo. Roads like this would undergo improvements if a sales tax for transportation in Missouri passes on Aug. 5.
A tractor trailer travels in the northbound lane of Interstate 49 near Carthage, Mo. Roads like this would undergo improvements if a sales tax for transportation in Missouri passes on Aug. 5. The Associated Press

Although Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon went on record opposing a statewide sales tax increase for transportation, AAA Midwest Traveler magazine devoted nearly a page to an editorial, urging Missourians to vote yes on Aug. 5 for it.

AAA in Missouri after all continues to provides motorists with travel information, roadside assistance and other helpful tips despite this being the age of smartphones and GPS guiding people. The Midwest Traveler editorial in the July-August edition gives voters in the primary good directions on the three-quarter cent sales tax ballot issue.

“The urgent need for additional funds to support transportation in Missouri is clearly evident,” the editorial says. The piece cites uncertain federal funding, declining fuel tax revenue, rising costs, and frozen and eliminated programs as reasons for the tax increase.

The 10-year tax wouldn’t apply to prescription drugs, retail food, gasoline or other things that are exempt from the state sales tax. The proposal would prohibit state and local toll roads and not allow the legislature to increase the state motor vehicle fuel tax in the 10-year period.

What the sales tax increase will do is generate $480 million annually for transportation needs. The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission is expected to publish a list of the projects to be funded with the new money.

Missouri has one of the lowest fuel taxes in the country. It is a fee on those who use the roads, but voters have shown no stomach for increasing it. The editorial also fails to address how the state could get big trucks that use the state highways to transports goods elsewhere to pay their fair share for the damage that those vehicles cause.

The sales tax is regressive and hurts low-income residents the most. That’s not addressed in the editorial. The piece did say:

“Over the past decade, Missouri has made great strides in improving its highways and bridges, and its citizens are benefiting from improved safety and reduced congestion. Hopefully, voters will agree that past improvements are worthy of preserving and that as they review the list of projects to be completed with the proceeds of the tax increase, they conclude that progress should continue and vote yes.”

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