Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has moved up a transportation sales tax ballot measure from its originally scheduled November 2014 election to this August. The measure proposes a three-fourths-cents state sales tax increase in order to support transportation infrastructure spending within the state. The Legislature voted in May to put the proposal on this year’s ballot. This move limits the amount of time proponents of the bill can develop a public relations campaign to generate support. As it is a constitutional amendment, the ballot proposal is decided by voters and bypasses the Governor’s ability to endorse or veto.
On Monday Governor Nixon came out in opposition to the measure. Governor Nixon said on Monday that increasing the state’s sales taxes in order to increase the transportation budget is an unfeasible burden on Missouri citizens. In a written statement Nixon stated, “This tax hike is neither a fair nor fiscally responsible solution to our transportation infrastructure needs, and it does not have my support.”
If approved by Missouri voters, the state’s sales tax would increase from 4.25 cents to 5 cents and would remain at that level for 10 years. According to state transportation officials, the sales tax increase is expected to bring in $5.4 billion over the 10-year period that it would be in effect. Per year, this is estimated to fund $480 million in state transportation improvements and $54 million in local transportation projects.
If passed, this would mark the first time that the state’s roads and bridges have been funded with something other than a user fee such as motor fuel tax, registration fees or a tax on vehicle sales. Without this sales tax, officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation expect that the budget will drop to $325 million by 2017, well below what is needed to maintain and improve state roads and bridges.