Missouri has the seventh largest highway system in the country, but is 47th in infrastructure funding according to Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna. He supports a gas tax increase proposal to fund the state’s roads and bridges.
“We have to be cognizant of the fact that when these others states are raising their gas tax, they’re investing at a rate that’s greater than the rate in Missouri,” McKenna said in a hearing on the legislation. “We have to be really careful that we don’t get behind in terms of that investment because businesses and people notice. They locate where they can move around efficiently and effectively.”
Missouri’s gas tax is 17 cents per gallon – the lowest in the country.
Senator Doug Libla’s (R-Poplar Bluff) proposal would increase the tax on diesel by 3.5 cents per gallon and on other fuels by 1.5 cents per gallon.
“What does it cost to get a wheel balanced or a front end aligned,” asked Libla. “What does it cost to have an accident?”
Jeremy Cady with the Missouri Alliance for Freedom opposes the measure and said a gas tax is only a short term fix.
“Raising the gas tax is kind of the easy way out,” said Cady. “I think we do need to look for a long-term solution. I think we do need to find a fix. What that fix is necessarily, I don’t have that answer.”
The state hasn’t increased its gas tax in 20 years. The Legislature couldn’t agree last year on a transportation funding bill, but many lawmakers agreed that funding needs to be increased.