The chairman of the senate transportation committee supports the call for a one cent sales tax to fund the interstate renovation. Transportation officials say the renovation is critical to state commerce and the state’s economy. Chairman Bill Stouffer says the proposal for a one cent sales tax for ten years is the best solution for raising the more than 7 billion dollars for a complete renovation.
Stouffer says the sales tax shouldn’t significantly impact the state’s lower income residents because the state does not collect sales tax on the population’s three largest budget items: food, shelter and medicine. He says the other hot option, charging tolls, would end up costing consumers more in food prices. He says about 70 percent of the cost of food reflects transportation costs. He says the tolls truckers would pay would be reflected in their freight and food prices would rise. He says that would ultimately hurt the low-income population.
Plus, he says tolls won’t even generate enough money to cover the 7 billion dollar price tag. He says an 8 cents a mile toll on I-70 and a 12 cents a mile toll on I-44 would only cover 75 percent of the renovation costs over 40 years.
Stouffer says the entire state is dependent on I-70 and I-44 for the health of the state’s economy and commerce. The 7 billion dollar renovation is a preliminary estimate of what it would cost to renovate interstates 70 and 44 into an 8 lane cooridor with 4 truck-only lanes.