(MISSOURINET) A proposed gas tax will once again be a hot topic when Missouri lawmakers reconvene in January.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Doug Libla has filed legislation that would raise Missouri’s gasoline tax from 17 to 19 cents per gallon.
Missouri’s 17-cent gas tax has remained the same since 1996. MODOT has been dipping into reserves for federal matching funds.
“It’s simple math,” Libla says. “You can’t purchase 2019, 2020 goods and services like asphalt, concrete, labor, steel with 1996 dollars.”
The bill would also raise the tax on diesel fuel from 17 to 23 cents per gallon.
Libla says lawmakers can raise the gasoline and diesel fuel taxes by this amount on their own, adding they have a fiduciary duty to do it on their own. He says his proposal is in line with the Hancock Amendment.
In 1980, the Missouri constitution was amended to include a taxing and expenditure limitation, which is commonly known as the Hancock Amendment.This tax limitation amendment imposes restrictions on the amount of personal income used to fund state government and the amount by which fees and taxes can be increased. Mathematical formulas are used to determine the relevant threshold amounts each year.The Hancock Amendment limits the amount of Missourians’ personal income that may be used to fund state government to no greater than the portion used to do so in 1981. In other words, since 5.6 percent of Missourians’ personal income went to fund state government in 1981, then no more than 5.6 percent can be used to do so in future years, unless revenues are specifically excluded by a vote of the people.The Hancock Amendment also requires voter approval before taxes or fees can be increased by the General Assembly beyond a certain annual limit.
“We’re (state lawmakers) elected to represent our constituents and also represent the state of Missouri and to make sure that we protect the assets of the state,” says Libla.
Missouri voters rejected a proposed ten-cent gas tax increase in November 2018.
While Missouri has the nation’s seventh-largest highway system with 34,000 miles of roadway, it ranks 49th in funding.
Chairman Libla predicts his proposal to increase Missouri’s gasoline and diesel fuel taxes would raise about $144 million annually for transportation. He says cities and counties would receive about $44 million of that, while the rest would go to MoDOT for maintenance and new road and bridge construction.
Libla’s legislation would also adjust the taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel annually for inflation. Libla says we’ve funded roads and bridges in Missouri for 95 years with a gas tax.
He says there are a lot road problems throughout the state.
“You know we have traffic congestion that’s costing hundreds of millions of dollars a year,” Libla says. “We’ve got safety issues, we’ve got families traveling, we’ve got school buses, we’ve got kids traveling everyday.”
Missouri’s 21st century transportation system task force submitted an 87-page report to the Legislature in January 2018, recommending a ten-cent gasoline tax increase and a 12-cent diesel tax increase. In that report, MoDOT said that congestion in St. Louis and Kansas City and along Interstates 44 and 70 in Missouri is causing an annual economic loss of $575 million.
“The cost of congestion in Kansas City and St. Louis have increased every year since 2013, along with the volume of traffic. The economic cost to Missouri drivers from congestion averages $43 per month per driver,” the January 2018 report read.
Libla says MoDOT has done an outstanding job, with the resources they are given.