MoDOT is looking for more money for its highway system. Two
proposals for highway funding were introduced in the General
Assembly this year: both involved an increase in the sales tax;
both had 8-lane interstates with 4 lanes reserved for trucks
as their centerpiece; one included nothing for transit or other
non-highway modes, while the other included a mere 2 percent.
If the General Assembly fails again next year to put a funding
proposal on the August, 2008, ballot, it's anticipated that
highway interests will put their own proposal on the ballot
through the initiative process. These issues will be discussed
at a "Transportation Funding Summit " to be held in
Jeff City on July 31. The summit is free and is sponsored by
the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight of the General
Assembly. It's important that representatives of constituencies
other than highway interests attend the July 31 summit to demonstrate
the needs of other modes.
Here’s the Situation
Like most other states, Missouri has been under-investing in
transportation for decades. Missouri highway interests feel
that need intensely, and they are currently engaged in an effort
to raise additional revenue for highways.
In 2004 Missouri voters passed Amendment 3. That measure captured
additional general revenue for highways in the form of the sales
tax on motor vehicles. The Amendment 3 money has been used largely
to sell bonds to finance an asphalt overlay on 2,200 of the
32,000 miles of state highways. Repayment of the bonds will
reduce money needed for highway maintenance to its pre-Amendment
While Amendment 3 provided a significant infusion of money for
highways, it did very little for public transit and other non-highway
modes. State funding for transit – both the urban transit
systems and the rural systems that serve every county in the
state – has actually declined in real dollars. Funding
Missouri ’s share of the cost of intercity rail passenger
service provided by Amtrak continues to be an annual budget
Two proposals have been offered
Stouffer has proposed a one-cent sales tax to finance total
reconstruction of I-70 and I-44. His proposal is 100 percent
St. Onge has proposed a half-cent sales tax, coupled with
increases in several highway user fees including fuel taxes,
to reconstruct I-70 and provide some additional money for
other modes. His proposal is 98 percent for highways.
proposals have been presented as a way to “start the
discussion” about transportation funding.
proposals revolve around reconstruction of the interstates
as 8-lane highways with dedicated truck-only lanes. (MoDOT
has already joined with three other state DOTs to apply for
federal "Corridors of the Future Program" funding
to study adding trucks-only lanes to a 789-mile stretch of
I-70 across Missouri-Illinois-Indiana-Ohio.)
proposals are all or almost all for highways, ignoring the
needs of public transit and other non-highway modes.
sales tax is proposed as a major source of revenue.
tax revenue would not be proportional to the transportation
burden (e.g., ton-miles of freight) placed on the highway
system. Consider the relative burden of a $100 load of gravel
vs. a $500 iPhone.
would compete directly against other potential uses of general
revenue for essential services such as health care or schools.
emphasis on 8-lane interstates is intended to attract more
trucks to Missouri by making distribution of goods an even
bigger part of the state’s economy, but without recovering
revenue from trucking commensurate with their cost –
i.e., a major subsidy to trucking.
the legislature fails next year to put a transportation
funding measure on the August, 2008 ballot – that’s
the target year since Congress is expected to raise the
federal gas tax in 2009 – then highway interests are
expected to mount an initiative petition campaign that suits
their own needs.
The July 31 Summit
A Transportation Funding Summit will be held in Jeff City on
Tuesday, July 31, 2007. It’s sponsored by the Joint Committee
on Transportation Oversight of the General Assembly, with the
cooperation of MoDOT. Attendance will be free.
The agenda appears to have a highway focus. Here’s
what we expect:
Director Pete Rahn will describe Missouri highway needs –
but it’s likely he’ll say little or nothing about
non-highway transportation needs
Stouffer and Representative St. Onge will describe their respective
Duvall, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy at USDOT,
will present an overview of prospects for federal transportation
funding – less federal money available and the need
for more-creative funding mechanisms, including toll highways
and congestion (or time-of-day) pricing.
economist from the Associated General Contractors will likely
tout the favorable “multiplier effect” of spending
money on highways – but without mentioning the multiplier
effect of state investment in other public goods and services.
- A panel of
engineering company experts will likewise tout the advantages
of investing in highways.