Supporters of a proposed state transportation sales tax increase launched the “Yes on Amendment 7” campaign on June 24.
Amendment 7 will appear before voters on the August 5 ballot. If passed, the measure will temporarily raise the state’s sales and use tax by three-quarters of one cent for a period of 10 years. The amendment would also prohibit any increase in the state gas tax and place a ban toll roads during its duration. While most of the money would be allocated to funding statewide transportation projects, five percent of the revenue would be allotted for cities and counties to fund local needs.
The group, known as, “Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs” launched the “Yes on Amendment 7” campaign to promote awareness of the measure and educate voters on how it would improve the state’s aging and inadequate transportation network. The group is co-chaired by two former Missouri transportation commissioners, Bill McKenna and Rudy Farber.
The amendment has come under scrutiny since its approval by the State Legislature earlier this year. On June 12, the Missouri Association for Social Welfare filed a lawsuit requesting the constitutional amendment be rewritten, claiming its language is misleading to voters. Governor Jay Nixon (D) has been vocal opponent, saying it would place an unfeasible burden on lower income citizens. In response to these criticisms, Ruby Farber pointed out that the proposed tax would not be applied to items such as groceries, prescription drugs, fuel, rent or utilities.
As part of the legislation that allowed Amendment 7 on the ballot, the Missouri Department of Transportation was required to create a list of transportation projects that would be funded if approved by voters. The agency has shared the list during public meetings throughout the state and invited residents to comment on the proposed plan.
UPDATE 7/1/2014: A Cole County judge has dismissed the lawsuit challenging the language in Amendment 7, stating the the deadline had passed. Judge Jon Beetam also stated that he found the language in the ballot measure to be fair and sufficient.