A special commission looking for new ways to finance Missouri’s road and bridge system wraps up its travels throughout the state today by hearing ideas in Lee’s Summit.
Money is running short and it’s going to get shorter for the state transportation department, which already has laid off 1200 people, closed more than 130 facilities, and sold 700 pieces of equipment. Department director Kevin Keith has told the committee those steps will let the department just barely meet matching funds requirements for federal highway money.
Missouri now relies on a gas tax that hasn’t changed in 20 years during which travel patterns and vehicle choices have seen major changes. Keith says average mileage has almost doubled and federal requirements are demanding average fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon by 2030. Keith says the situation points to a continued decline in money for road and bridge building.
He doesn’t know what the answer is. But he says a gas tax big enough to solve the problems won’t work. A sales tax on fuel, he says, needs to be considered. But he says it will require a big sales job to convince the public to approve it.