Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tax Boost Would Fuel Transportation, Report Says Increase Would Fill $17 Billion Hole in Budget for Roads, Transit

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tax Boost Would Fuel Transportation, Report Says Increase Would Fill $17 Billion Hole in Budget for Roads, Transit

Article excerpt

Missouri's sales tax should be increased by 1 cent to help pay for roads, MetroLink expansion and other transportation projects, a state commission has recommended in a draft report.

The report, made public Wednesday, says the tax increase would bring in about $575 million a year. The current Missouri sales tax rate is 4.225 percent, ranking 35th among states.

The draft report also: * Recommends keeping the state gasoline tax of 6 cents a gallon. The tax is scheduled to expire in 2007. * Suggests putting more of the state's transportation financing toward construction instead of maintenance and administration. * Emphasizes accountability for how the money would be spent. * Calls for better planning and for linking transportation with eco nomic development. The draft proposal came from the Missouri Total Transportation Commission, a 34-member board appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan. The commission has worked for almost a year to figure out how the state might make up for a lack of money for transportation projects. The commission estimated that over the next 20 years, Missouri will need $17 billion more to pay for projects. "The one place you can get a large amount of money at one particular time is a sales tax," said commission Chairman S. Lee Kling. He said it would take a gasoline tax increase of up to 30 cents a gallon to raise as much as a 1-cent sales tax increase. Most of the new money would go for maintaining and building highways. The commission estimated that 84 percent of the need - or $13.8 billion - is for roads. That includes highway corridors in many of the areas once promised money in the state's 15-year highway plan, now almost defunct because of no money. About $2 billion - or about 13 percent - would go for extending MetroLink in St. Louis, building a light-rail system in Kansas City and other, smaller mass transit projects. …

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