Backers of the transportation sales tax on the ballot a week from today say it’s the only chance Missourians have to adequately finance future transportation needs.
Supporters say the choices are limited when it comes to raising the billions of dollars needed for roads and bridges at the state and local levels for years to come. Toll roads don’t have much support. A fuel tax hike big enough to do the job has even less. A three-quarters cent sales tax increase seems to have narrow majority support.
Senator Mike Kehoe of Jefferson City has pushed this issue since being elected four years ago. He says 2,000 bridges in the state system are on a watch list and almost 900 will close in two years without the additional funding.
Opponents say big trucks that do the most damage are not going to have to pay any more taxes. But Kehoe says they will continue paying the present fuel tax while they haul the goods Missourians buy at their stores. He says consumers will pay the extra amount whether they pay the increased sales tax or pay the increased retail prices a substantial diesel tax increase will cause.