Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has approved the ballot question for House Joint Resolution 68, a bill that will raise the state sales and use tax by .75% for a period of 10 years in order to fund transportation projects throughout the state, if approved by voters in August.
HJR 68 will appear on the ballot in August as Constitutional Amendment 7. The approved language reads:
“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?”
HJR 68 has come under scrutiny since its passage by the state Legislature. On June 12 the Missouri Association for Social Welfare filed a lawsuit requesting that the constitutional amendment be rewritten, stating their belief that the language is misleading to voters. Governor Jay Nixon has also been vocally opposed to the bill.
Among supporters of the bill is the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has said, “By 2017, it’s estimated that the department’s funding will drop to $325 million. At that level, department leaders have warned that they won’t be able to even maintain the state’s existing infrastructure. The new sales tax is designed to provide the funding needed to maintain and improve Missouri’s transportation infrastructure.”
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.