Transportation funding looms large as lawmakers mull tax plans

Years of falling revenue for Missouri’s roads have pushed lawmakers to consider tax and fee hikes that could prove a sticking point as they work to pass “the largest tax cut” in state history.

Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri, says the bill is not a tax cut at all for Missouri businesses as a group. See article here on the Senate version of the tax bill and see article here for more details on the House tax reform bill. The bills are a tax increase for corporations and small and mid-sized businesses.

The Missouri Department of Transportation reports it’s short $825 million for high-priority needs alone, and though 90 percent of its major highways and interstates are in good condition, it has no money to start expansion projects or improve public safety. In a citizen’s guide, the department says it must use all of its resources on maintaining the current system.

“To do that, some MoDOT districts must devote every available dollar to maintaining the condition of their roads and bridges, and they are still going to lose ground over time,” the department says.

House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, a Springfield Republican, said lawmakers are the “closest (they’ve) ever gotten to getting something done” on transportation funds.

“We’ve been drastically underfunding our roads for decades,” he said.

Haahr is sponsoring a package of individual and corporate tax cuts, coupled with increases in motor vehicle fees and the closing of some deductions.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Poplar Bluff Republican, expects the House will work on Haahr’s bill next week.

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