A proposal to increase Missouri’s gas tax clings to life in the state Senate, and Governor Jay Nixon (D) is asking lawmakers to get it to his desk.
The governor traveled to the Kansas City area to see the Highway 291 bridge over the Missouri River that the Transportation Department has closed due to a deteriorating structure. Nixon used the bridge as a backdrop to deliver a message to the state legislature: he wants it to pass a proposed fuel tax increase that has been stalled in the Senate.
“We don’t need to have a bunch of bridges closing around, or being dangerous out there, and we need to improve our road system,” said Nixon.
Nixon hopes the Senate will pass that tax today so it can be in the House next week, the final week of the session.
The proposal would raise the tax on diesel fuel by 3.5-cents and other fuels by 1.5-cents, but would not require voter approval. It is projected it would generate $54.6-million a year. That would be enough to keep Missouri from losing 160-million in matching federal transportation dollars.
“We have the sixth longest [transportation] system and the fifth lowest income stream and things are aging, and we’re going to start losing federal dollars,” said Nixon. “[If] we aren’t able to keep our match system up on our side as a state, we’ll continue not only to fund our roads but with our very taxes fund other states’ roads.”
The bill has been held up in the Senate by lawmakers who want it to go to a vote of the people for final approval. If the bill does reach the House it faces another challenge. Some lawmakers there say five days is not enough time for that chamber to consider such a proposal.