The state legislature did not pass a transportation funding fix during the regular legislative session that ended Friday. One measure that passed in the Senate but died in the House would have asked voters if Missouri’s gas tax should be increased 5.9 cents per gallon to help pay for roads and bridges.
Senator Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) says he worked hard to find a compromise this year in hopes that the proposal would pass.
“The people of the state of Missouri will not be able to vote on whether or not they would like to pay a little more to get better roads and bridges to drive on,” said Libla.
Lawmakers agree transportation funding must increase but they disagree on how to fund it.
House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) says the measure wasn’t allowed to die in his chamber because it’s an election year.
“This is a conservative caucus. This is a caucus that has concerns about any kind of tax increase,” said Richardson. “The proposal got more traction this year than it’s had in the past. Ultimately, there just wasn’t enough support.”
House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis) says not finding ways to increase transportation funding was the biggest disappointment about this session.
“The Senate came up with a bi-partisan bill that was sitting on the House calendar and the majority refused to even bring it us for a discussion,” said Hummel. “I think that’s cowardice at best on an election year issue. We have absolutely failed in this legislative session to do anything about it. The biggest issue that they could come up with to fix our roads and bridges were license plate bills.”
Governor Jay Nixon (D) says the issue is going to have to be addressed.
“I think that ultimately the voters will support making these kinds of transportation investments,” said Nixon. “The legislature did not do anything significant or earth shattering in this area. That’s just one of those things that’s going to have to get done for Missourians.”
Missouri hasn’t increased its gas tax in 20 years and has one of the lowest fuel taxes in the nation.