Nearly 60 Percent of Missourians Say No to Transportation Sales Tax
After much debate over the three-quarter cent sales tax increase to boost transportation, Missourians voted no on Amendment 7. KSMU’s Anna Thomas has reaction.
Jeanette Mott Oxford is the executive director of Missouri Association for Social Welfare, one of dozens of groups that opposed the measure to raise the state’s sales tax over a period of 10 years. She called the 59 percent of no votes on Tuesday a solid defeat of the amendment.
“I think it’s become pretty accepted that there should be some connection between how much you use the highways and whether you contribute to it. So taxing me on a pair of socks that I buy, or a neighbor on school supplies that they buy in order to pay for roads just didn’t add up in people’s mind,” Mott Oxford said.
Mott Oxford said she understands that funding needs to come from somewhere, a reason why she supports modernizing the fuel tax which hasn’t been changed since 1996.
“I think there’s some things that can be done. And I’m really anxious to sit down with the folks that supported Amendment 7 to see if we can come up with a solution that we can all get behind together, and come out on the winning side as a diverse team in the future,” Mott Oxford said.
Mott Oxford adds that transportation represents only a portion of Missouri’s needs, and adequate funding is essential in serving all state interests.
The Missouri Department of Transportation had previously stated that failure to pass Amendment 7 could push the agency into maintenance mode, with an annual budget of just $350 million within a few years. Officials say it takes about $485 million a year just to keep the state’s current system in good condition.
In southwest Missouri, $640 million would have been dedicated to various repairs over the next 10 years if the sales tax increase were approved.
More than 56 percent of Greene County voters said no to Amendment 7 on Tuesday.
Transportation officials respond (Updated at 1:10 p.m. 8-06-14):
In a written statement, Stephen Miller, chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, said that the commission respects the public's decision but is very disappointed in the result.
“As we have seen for the past several years, I think Missourians have a clear understanding that more resources need to be invested in our transportation infrastructure, but there just isn’t any consensus on how to pay for it. We need to continue working toward that end,” Miller said.
Dave Nichols, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said that the agency will "continue our focus on safety, maintaining our roads and bridges, and providing outstanding customer service with the resources we have.”