September 20, 2014

Suit challenges transportation tax ballot title (AUDIO)

The words that will appear on the ballot for the transportation sales tax are facing a legal challenge.

The Missouri Association for Social Welfare opposes the three-quarters of a percent increase in the state sales tax that the Governor has put on the August ballot. The legislature has written the ballot title that MASW Executive Director Jeanette Mott Oxford says is “inadequate, unfair, and prejudicial.” She says the legislature’s language does not point out that the .75% increase amounts to a total state sales tax increase of almost 18%.Her lawsuit says the legislature’s wording about the money being used for “safety” is vague.

She says the proposal also bans increases in the “gas tax” while the sales tax would be in effect. But she says there is no such thing in state law as a “gas tax.” State law refers to a “motor fuel tax”. Oxford says the ballot title must be accurate so people know what they’re voting on.

 AUDIO: Oxford interview 5:15  

The Secretary of State’s office has until June 30 to write an additional description of the proposal to be posted in polling places on election day.

 The language submitted by the legislature in HJR68:

Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges?

This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments. Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited. This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.