Missouri voters August 5 failed to approve a ballot measure that would have increased the state’s sales tax by three-fourths-cents to help pay for transportation infrastructure projects. The measure would have raised $5.4 billion over the next decade, with $480 million per year going toward state transportation improvements and $54 million per year going toward local projects. The proposed amendment would have also prohibited fuel tax increases during this time.

Missouri’s roads accommodate high volumes of out-of-state truck traffic, and at least some residents took issue with the fact that the ballot measure did not account for wear and tear on the roads by those who use them.

As one voter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “It’s unfair to have a sales tax. I don’t have a problem with a gas tax. Add 10 cents a gallon for gas and 20 cents a gallon for diesel. That’s fair.”

Another added, “…We don’t think it’s fair not to tax the truck drivers.”

With the ballot measure’s defeat, Missouri will be going back to the drawing board to try to find additional funding for its transportation projects. Officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation project that without it, their budget will drop from $700 million to $325 million by 2017, well below what is needed to maintain and improve the state’s roads and bridges.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Missouri has 130,360 miles of roadway. Of the state’s 30,560 miles of roadway eligible for federal aid, 25 percent are rated “not acceptable” and need major repairs or replacement. The state also has over 24,000 bridges, 30 percent of which are either “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”[1] It will cost an estimated $5.3 billion to make needed bridge repairs on these nearly 6,000 structures.

Missouri’s state fuel tax rate has remained at 17 cents-per-gallon since 1996.


[1] 2013 State Bridge Rankings: http://www.slideshare.net/artba/state-bridge-rankings