Voters will be asked on the Aug. 5 Missouri ballot if they want to increase the statewide sales tax by ¾ of a cent for 10 years. The money will be used to improve statewide transit infrastructure including roads and highways, bridges and public transit projects. The money raised will not be allowed to be used on any other kinds of projects.
Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges? This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments. Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited. This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.
What it means:
If the amendment passes, the state will add a ¾ of a cent sales tax to all purchases for 10 years. The money will only be allowed to go toward transportation infrastructure projects. One of the major projects that would be funded through Amendment 7 is the widening of Interstate 70. The amendment also freezes the state gas tax at 17 cents per gallon for 10 years.
The amendment has found support from lobbies and companies that stand to gain the most – construction companies, contractors and labor unions . Fix Mo Roads, a statewide support organization argues that whether you drive a car to work, take the bus (or, someday, possibly streetcars or rapid rail), or drive a truck for a career, the amendment will make your life easier. Plus, supporters say it’s time to modernize critical infrastructure. The group points to reports that have named more than 2,000 bridges in Missouri (including many in Kansas City) that are labeled “structurally deficient,” and the nearly two-thirds of all state bridges that are in “fair or poor”condition.
Cons: Opponents say that the tax is too significant, especially in big cities where sales taxes are already high. Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions, the main opposition group, argues that the tax increase will have no impact on the people who use interstates more than almost every Missourian – truckers.
The opposition has also brought together supporters of more public transit with opponents of the amendment on fiscal grounds. Transit Action KC, a local group that pushes public transportation opposes the tax increase as a way to promote transit. Transit Action KC argues that, rather than funding roads and bridges through a tax that applies to everybody that buys anything in the state, a better way is driver-specific taxes such as gas taxes, sales tax on vehicles and license fees. That’s how the state has traditionally funded projects.
What it means for Kansas City:
The Missouri Department of Transportation’s list of projects that would be funded by the tax includes several major projects in the Kansas City area. Among the most notable improvements are a new Broadway bridge north of downtown that will cost $73.83 million; $52.9 million to extend the Main Street streetcar line to the UMKC campus (along with another $90.99 million for other streetcar extensions); and $81.08 million to add lanes and improve bridges on I-435 from Kansas to I-49 in Kansas City.