The Missouri Senate last week gave initial approval to an increase in Missouri fuel taxes, but some leaders are concerned that might be as far as the bill gets.
“I’m thinking of the Burt Reynolds movie,” Senate Leader Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) told reporters in summing up the prospects of the bill. “It’s got a long [way] to go and a short time to get there.”
The proposal would raise Missouri’s tax on diesel fuel 3.5-cents and on other fuel 1.5-cents. If passed, Senate projections are that it would raise $54.6-million a year for transportation infrastructure, but Dempsey says language that would create a board to study tolling on I-70 could doom it.
“[I’m] hearing from some of our members that the amendment that Senator [Rob] Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) put on is problematic, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” said Dempsey.
If the proposal does make it out of the Senate, it could face a challenge in the House where Speaker John Diehl, Junior (R-Town and Country), had said transportation funding might have to wait until next year to be addressed. But, he told Missourinet his chamber would give it a look.
“Once they get it over to us we’ll refer it to the appropriate committee to give it a fair hearing, and see whether or not it’s something that we should pass out,” Diehl told Missourinet.
Transportation officials say the bill would generate enough to match 160-million federal transportation dollars in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016, but additional state money would be needed to avoid losing federal dollars in years after that.