Midway through this year’s legislative session, House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, told reporters he was hopeful that lawmakers would settle by the end of session on a solution for Missouri’s transportation funding. The chances of resolving the issue in this final week of the state legislature’s regular session could be in the rearview mirror.
State Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, tells Missourinet a gas tax proposal will come up during this final week. One would have to be fast-tracked to get to the finish line before the gavel drops on Friday.
Missouri has not increased its fuel tax in more than 20 years and it remains one of the lowest in the nation – 17 cents per gallon. For years, legislators have failed to get on the same page and agree to a way to boost funding for Missouri’s roads and bridges.
In 2017, lawmakers, Missouri Transportation Department and local officials gathered during a series of statewide task force meetings to discuss how to increase funding for the state’s crippling infrastructure. The formation of the task force suggested there might be more focus during the session to find more funding for the state’s roads and bridges.
Chairman Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City, said transportation is the biggest issue he’s heard about from citizens during the past decade. The heavy interest in the topic was clear by the many Missourians who attended the statewide task force meetings last summer.
In January, the task force submitted an 87-page report to the legislature. It recommended a ten cent gasoline and 12 cent diesel tax increases would raise about $430 million annually. Under the task force’s recommendation, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) predicts the average Missouri driver would pay about an extra $5 per month at the gas pump.
Reiboldt is sponsoring a bill that would increase the motor fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon for unleaded gasoline and 12 cents per gallon for diesel. If passed, the measure would go on the November election ballot for Missouri voters to decide its fate. His measure has passed out of one House committee and is awaiting consideration by another.
In a proposed tax plan, Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, has included a gradual gas tax increase of six cents by 2023. The measure remains in the Senate.
House Speaker Pro-Tem Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, is proposing to index vehicle user fees to the cost of inflation. According to Haahr, a provision within his massive tax bill would generate about $174 million annually for the state’s road fund. He says it would also provide in its first year alone nearly $60 million in additional money to counties and localities for their local infrastructure budgets. Haahr’s bill awaits consideration by the full Senate.
The Missouri Legislature’s regular session must end by 6 p.m. on Friday.
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