Missourians should vote ‘yes’ on Missouri fuel tax

Kellie Houx/Staff Photo

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is one of many Prop D supporters. He stopped by the Northland Regional Chamber office to encourage leaders to support Prop D.

Let’s face it, no one likes tax increases, especially on something we all use so much of daily: gasoline. However, that is exactly what Proposition D is asking Missourians to do, raise the tax on fuel by 2.5 cents per gallon starting in July, for gasoline, diesel, natural gas and propane. The total tax increase, 10 cents per gallon, would be phased in over four years, bringing the total tax to 27 cents per gallon by 2022.

The proposed gas tax increase would generate $288 million annually for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and $123 million annually for local municipalities to use for road maintenance. While this is true, it’s worth keeping in mind the tax revenue won’t exactly follow a straight line.

Currently, funds for the highway patrol are divvied out of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s fund. By providing $288 million to the highway patrol through the proposed gas tax increase, MoDOT would be able to reallocate funds budgeted for the patrol to road and bridge projects.

We at the Courier-Tribune think voters should vote “yes” on Prop D.

As journalists, we tend to drive a lot, using our personal vehicles for work, racking up thousands of miles per year traversing our state’s roadways. We know all too well how the proposed increase would affect our and everyone else’s wallets, but the reality is something needs to be done and now.

Here’s why:

• The current tax is 17 cents per gallon of gas and has remained unchanged since 1996. Adjusted for inflation, today’s 17 cents fuel tax is worth about 7 cents compared to 1996.

• Missouri ranks 49th in the nation for fuel tax, only ahead of Alaska, where a major pipeline exists. Our state also ranks a lowly 46th in the nation in revenue spent per mile on our roadways. Despite these low spending and tax collection figures, Missouri has the seventh largest highway system at 32,000 miles.

By having one of the largest highway systems in the United States and lowest tax on fuel, we are primed for disaster due to crumbling infrastructure with roads and bridges literally rusting and cracking away.

Prop D would not only help road and bridge construction with an injection of cash, but would also help fund keeping them safe, with a portion of the funds generated going to the highway patrol for costs of enforcing Missouri’s laws on state highways.

Voting “yes” on Prop D means injection of a funding stream for the patrol that potentially frees up more than $400 million annually, which could go toward other efforts such as local roads and bridges.

According to SaferMO.com, a coalition effort aimed at educating voters for passage of Prop D, states Clay County could see additional roadways of $$1,974,054, if the measure passes. Of that, Holt would receive $7,031, Kearney would receive $131,826, Liberty would get $458,487 and Smithville would receive $132,518.

Another reason to pass Prop D is it is a use tax, meaning everyone, including tourists, are accountable, as the burden of additional costs is placed on those using the roadways, not just those living in a particular area.

Prop D is also bipartisan supported, getting backing from a statewide coalition of farmers, business people, professional associations, labor, city and county leaders and law enforcement supporters. Prop D has support from members of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

For years, we in Missouri have been contemplating what to do about the state of roads, letting other tax efforts fail.

Opponents of Prop D say the effort doesn’t go far enough in raising enough funds for our disastrous roads, and they’re right. Missourians will likely be asked again in the near future to provide more tax funding for the highway system, but at least this is a start.

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