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State Sales Tax Increase for Roads to be on November Ballot

The 3/4 cent hike would generate about $500 million per year for road repairs and other transportation needs.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri voters will decide the fate of a state sales tax increase in November.

The state House of Representatives approved language that would place a 3/4 cent sales tax increase on the ballot with revenues being directed to the state's transportation system.

Missouri Department of Transportation officials have been struggling in recent years due to flat revenues and increasing costs of road repairs.

"The last time the gas tax was raised was over 20 years ago in 1992," said Don Wichern, MoDOT District Engineer for northwest Missouri. "What's happened is our 17-cent per gallon fuel tax is now equivalent to 8-cents per gallon fuel tax with inflation."

If passed, the tax increase is expected to generate nearly $500 million per year. Wichern says that money would do a lot in helping MoDOT catch up on projects delayed due to a lack of funding.

"With everything tripling in the last thirty years, the price of oil, the price of gas, the price of steel, the price of concrete, the things that we use to operate the highway system, bridges, transit, everything that we do is falling to a level we can't sustain the system the way it is today," Wichern said.

According to a recent MoDOT survey, there's no shortage of projects Missourian's would like to see taken care of.

"People identified I think about 12,000 projects statewide, all over the board," said Tony McGaughy, assistant district engineer for MoDOT in northwest Missouri. "Obviously some of those projects, more than one, it came to about $70 billion."

The question is whether Missourians will tolerate a tax increase that would bring sales taxes to above or near ten percent in much of the state.

"If the economy doesn't get any better, I'm not sure this will be a positive thing," Wichern said. "If our economy starts improving, maybe people will be willing to say I want a better transportation system."

If passed, food and prescription medications would not fall under the state sales tax.

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