Vision first, a tax increase proposal later.

That was the message delivered during the Second Annual Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight Summit held in Jefferson City. Several proposals to raise various taxes to pay for road, bridge and other transportation improvements have been batted around in the legislation. None have gotten anywhere.

Rep. Neal St. Onge (R-Ballwin), chairman of the House Transportation Committee and co-chair of the Joint Committee, tells participants tax talk is premature.

"We have to decide what we want," Onge told the gathering, "We need to find out what do we want, what does Missouri, as a state, want from its system?"

Missouri has just about run out of Amendment Three funding approved by voters in 2004. Federal funding is expected to drop as well.

Though a funding crisis looms, St. Onge says transportation leaders cannot afford to lose focus.

"From a business perspective, from a practical perspective, we need to look at what we want before we can figure out what it is going to cost," according to St. Onge.

That includes all aspects of transportation, says Onge:  roads, bridges, barge traffic and public transportation. He says it might take as much as two years to settle on a plan to present to the public.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)