The chairman of the Missouri Senate Transportation Committee supports a gasoline tax increase, saying that our roads and bridges must be funded adequately.
State Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, chairs the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety committee. He tells Missourinet we’ve funded roads and bridges for 95 years in Missouri with a gas tax.
“Back in the day when I first became a Republican, a user tax was a conservative Republican position,” Libla says. “And I still believe so today. I think those who use the roads should help pay for them.”
Missouri’s 17-cent per gallon gas tax has remained the same since 1996. Voters rejected a proposed ten-cent gas tax increase in November.
Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe (R) notes Missouri has the seventh-largest infrastructure system, but ranks 49th in funding.
Libla, who represents eight southeast Missouri counties, emphasizes that local officials help to decide key projects.
“We have planning commissions all over this state, so it’s not just a few people deciding where a new road or a new intersection goes in or a new four-lane or whatever,” says Libla.
He says transportation is critical for both urban and rural residents, noting Missouri’s $88 billion agricultural industry is the state’s top industry.
Meantime, Chairman Libla says the heavily-traveled stretch of Highway 50 between California and Sedalia in mid-Missouri needs to be four-laned. He says it’s similar to some highways in his sprawling district.
“It’s two-lane, you have some people wanting to drive the speed limit, you have some who want to drive 15 mile (per hour) under it. And you get a lot of backup, people get impatient, so on and so forth,” Libla says.
The state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) included the Highway 50 project from California to Sedalia in the August 2014 ballot measure known as Amendment 7, which was defeated at the polls. At that time, MoDOT estimated it would cost $122 million to four-lane that stretch.
MoDOT also notes that the central district planning partners have identified the next segment of Highway 50 as an unfunded priority. The segment, which is from California to Tipton, would cost about $44 million.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, which was recorded at the State Fair in Sedalia on August 15, 2019:
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