More than one bond proposal will be debated in the state legislature in the session that begins in three weeks. The list of projects those would fund has not been determined, and some supporters want it to include some highway and bridge work.
Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) is the vice-chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He says the costs of transportation are too high to include in those proposals, that would ask Missourians to approve the sale of $950 million in bonds.
“The resources contained within the bond dollar amounts … that they’ve filed could be more appropriate and a better value if we concentrated that more on structures.”
Kehoe says other ideas are being floated that could benefit the state’s highway system.
“Senator (John) Lamping has filed a tax reform package and part of that package is going to include language in it that would potentially look at some type of sales tax increase with an offsetting taxpayer refund, so that would keep it cost-neutral to the citizens. There is an independent group, Missouri Transportation Alliance, who have worked very hard in the state for the last several years that are proposing a couple of the other different options for Missourians to look at as far as funding or resources for transportation.”
Kehoe says now is a good time for passage of a new funding plan for roads, bridges and railways for the same reason bonding issue proponents say the time is right to approve those: interest rates on money are at an all-time low.
He wants to see a plan approved that will provide stable, long-term funding and hold the Department of Transportation accountable.
“I would prefer a plan that has something that meets the needs of the transportation system that has some type of sunset mechanism so that citizens can feel like there’s an opportunity to check in every so often and make sure that the dollars that they devote to transportation and infrastructure are being spent wisely, and that the projects are being done according to the time and budget needs of the various communities.”
Kehoe adds, Missouri could soon have to put up more money to keep getting its current level of federal money.
“The newest (federal) reauthorization bill has some trigger mechanisms in it where the State of Missouri’s match to get some of the federal dollars is going to continue to go up a little bit, so three and four years from now, just our match to get to the dollars that we get from the feds today is going to become significantly higher.”
The session begins January 9.
AUDIO: Mike Lear interviews Mike Kehoe, 9:10