Drivers could pay a little more when they go to the gas pump in Missouri. State Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, is offering a bill that would ask voters to increase the fee by two cents per year over a five-year period.
During a public hearing today about the plan, Schatz says an increase is necessary to pay for repairs to the state’s roads and bridges – and for the state’s economy.
“Making Missouri an attractive place for businesses to want to come and locate, without infrastructure, we are simply not going to be able to compete,” says Schatz.
Schatz says Missouri has the sixth largest road system in America, yet the state is ranked 48th in road funding.
Missouri has not raised the tax since 1996. The current rate is 17 cents per gallon for a gallon of unleaded fuel – one of the lowest in the nation.
Schatz says changes could be made to the bill to get it past the finish line. He cited a model used in South Carolina that gives a rebate to consumers.
Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna supports the measure.
“We support this bill primarily with information that we are providing here for the things we are not getting done as a state in terms of the infrastructure. Our citizen’s guide to transportation outlines essentially $8 to $10 billion of unfunded needs for our roads and bridges in this state,” says McKenna.
Randy Scherr, executive director of the Missouri Concrete Association, says ready-mix concrete was about $58 a yard in 1996. It took 341 gallons of fuel to pay for that yard of concrete. With vehicles averaging 19 miles per gallon, it took 6,500 miles to pay for that one yard.
“A year ago, the price of concrete was about $130 a yard, taking 753 gallons of fuel to pay for that yard. So, you can see what we have lost in our buying power and how far we are behind in funding our highway system,” says Scherr.
Some individuals testified in support of also boosting the fee for other motor fuels that exist today or in the future.
Tom Crawford with the Missouri Trucking Association spoke in support of the bill.
“For those of you in the Agriculture Committee hearing yesterday talking about biodiesel, one of the big discussions was where fuel is going. Fuel is going through Illinois,” says Crawford. “So, whatever we can do in Missouri to help create a situation where we are keeping some of those fuels and fuel purchases here, we would be in support of.”
No one testified against the plan.
The Missouri Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee has not yet voted on the proposal. To view Senate Bill 262, click here.
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