The Missouri legislature has passed a motor fuel tax increase of 10 cents. The current rate of $0.17 per gallon would rise to $0.27 per gallon over a four year period.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been struggling for several years to come up with a plan to deal with a funding shortage for Missouri’s roads and highways.

A proposal to hike the state sales tax by 0.75 percent for the purpose of transportation projects was rejected by voters in 2014. The legislation was the brainchild of Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, who has been among the legislators trying to find money for roads.

If the measure approved by the legislature Friday is signed by the governor, it’ll go before voters in the form of a Constitutional amendment.

Raising the motor fuel tax was one of the key recommendations of a task force put together by lawmakers in 2017. The group (21st century Missouri Transportation System Task Force) held at least seven meetings across the state before presenting suggestions to improve transportation in Missouri to the legislature in January.

It recommended a ten-cent gasoline tax increase and a 12-cent diesel tax increase. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) predicted the average Missouri motorist would pay an additional $5 per month, under the proposal.

Missouri has the 7th largest transportation system in the country but ranks 46th in revenue per mile. The massive disparity has been attributed to a unique arrangement in which Missouri maintains a vast network of county highways, commonly referred to as the lettered roads, unlike most any other state.

Missouri is tied with Oklahoma for the lowest fuel tax in the region at $0.17 per gallon. By comparison, Missouri maintains 33,856 miles of roads and bridges while Oklahoma handles 12,257 miles.

The Show-Me State hasn’t seen a boost in fuel tax since 1996. MoDOT has pegged the increase in funding needed to maintain and provide infrastructure upgrades to the state’s roads at $825 million annually.

Fully implemented, the motor fuel tax increase to $0.17 per gallon would generate roughly $400 million per year.

The measure approved by the legislature was passed in the House Friday as an amendment to the “Olympic Dream Freedom Act” which would exempt Missourians from having to pay state income tax on U.S. Olympic medals and prize money they win.