A legislatively-appointed Missouri task force recommended on Jan. 2 an immediate 10 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax increase and 12 cents-per-gallon diesel tax increase as part of its final analysis on the state’s transportation funding needs. The increased taxes would generate an additional $430 million annually.
The committee also advised establishing long-term transportation funding solutions, including:
- Doubling electric and hybrid vehicle registration fees;
- A 10 percent increase for non-fuel transportation user fees such as vehicle registration and licensing fees;
- Indexing user fees, including motor fuel taxes and non-fuel fees;
- Converting the state’s vehicle registration fee basis from horsepower to vehicle miles-per-gallon;
- Dedicating a percentage of internet sales taxes for transportation purposes;
- Instituting express/managed lanes and state bridge tolling;
- Establishing a state infrastructure bank;
- Permitting local excise taxes for transportation purposes;
- Expanding public-private partnerships; and
- Utilizing a mileage-based user fee approach to transportation funding.
The report to the state legislature comes after a six-month evaluation in 2017, including 10 public meetings throughout the state. If lawmakers approve the recommended motor fuel tax increases, the state constitution requires that the question then go before voters for final approval.
A measure to increase the state sales tax by 0.75 cent for transportation purposes failed on the Aug. 2014 ballot, with 41 percent in favor and 59 percent opposed. The measure, which was opposed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D), had less than three months from legislative approval to voter consideration. The lack of time to mobilize support for the amendment was cited as one of the key factors contributing to its defeat. The task force’s report stated that the current climate— including the improvement of the state and national economy, and efforts by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to create public trust in the agency— as well as the use of a motor fuel tax versus a sales tax makes 2018 an opportune time to appeal to voters for increased transportation revenue.
MoDOT had previously concluded that the state was facing an $825-million annual transportation funding gap.