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Examiner
  • Vote no: We need roads, not bells and whistles

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  • Missouri Constitutional Amendment 7, a 10-year sales tax increase, seems to be essentially a special-interest tax, primarily benefiting those special-interest groups. With the pretense that our roads, highways and bridges are dilapidated, I’ve got good news: Just because they say they are doesn’t make it so. I realize they’re not perfect and there are issues that need to be addressed. That’s reality. I believe it’s the state’s responsibility to promote job creation, not provide it.
    It is referred to as a temporary sales tax. A 10-year span is a real stretch as temporary. It would be the state’s largest ever tax increase. The Examiner has reported MoDOT has developed a list of thousands of projects statewide which could include $41.75 million for rebuilding part of Interstate 435 in the Kansas City area. I sure didn’t realize I-435 was in that bad of shape, or is it?
    The Amendment 7 ballot language includes “and transportation projects.” Were you aware that includes railroads, airports, mass transit and river ports? That pro-Amendment 7 TV spot fails to mention that. Local examples are $1.73 million to build a new terminal at Lee’s Summit airport; $15-20 million to add a bike trail on the old Rock Island Railroad line from Pleasant Hill to Kansas City; $124 million for street car lines in Kansas City.
    Also, the widening of Interstate 70 from four to six lanes across Missouri, which appears very similar to the longtime proposed NAFTA Superhighway that will be utilized to ship products and produce from Mexico through Texas, through the United States to Canada, which can’t be good for our economy. Google it for more information.
    Let’s not forget, if you increase the size of your infrastructure you proportionately increase your future maintenance and repair costs. Where will that money come from?
    It seems almost unbelievable that MoDOT plans to completely remove and replace various bridges across the state if this tax increase is approved (a local example being the I-435 bridges over I-70 near the stadiums). I certainly don’t profess to be a bridge engineer, but find it very hard to believe that these bridges can’t be repaired or refurbished at a fraction of that cost. That would certainly be more convenient and economical for the motorist/taxpayer.
    We the taxpayers just can’t afford to use a bridge for a period of time, stop the cars from crossing it, tear it down and build a new one. That mindset has to change. MoDOT must operate within its financial means and not take on new projects unless they have excess funds after all necessary repairs and maintenance is complete. Financial reality dictates that you live within your means. Budget, allocate and spend based on responsible priorities, not whistles and bells we don’t have the money for.
    Page 2 of 2 - Voters in 2004 approved bonds for road, highway and bridge work, and then there were more taxpayer dollars to Missouri in 2009 from the federal stimulus funds in response to the recession, and all these funds were in addition to MoDOT’s annual revenues. But now we’re hearing our roads, highways and bridges aren’t safe. MoDOT receives revenues from fuel taxes, general revenues, federal government, vehicle and driver licensing fees, cost reimbursements, interest and miscellaneous, and motor vehicle sales and use taxes. That certainly should support maintaining what I believe are not perfect, but safe roads, highways and bridges, and rectify any true safety concerns.
    The Missouri gas tax is 17.4 cents per gallon for gas and diesel, and 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gas and 24.4 cents on diesel, which equals 35.7 cents per gallon total on gas and 41.7 cents on diesel. However, Amendment 7 advocates claim there’s inadequate funding to provide us with safe roads, highways and bridges.
    My observation on roads and bridges is substantial future dollars could be saved by spending more dollars now on preventive maintenance, especially on bridges. I’m not saying MoDOT doesn’t do a good job because I believe it does. It just needs to make sure it always operates within its financial means by not taking on extra projects it/we can’t afford.
    I’ll admit I don’t know all the circumstances, but would like to think if MoDOT truly required some emergency financial assistance that our legislators could also be more prudent and provide help with funding. That’s why I’m voting “no” on Amendment 7 and “yes” on everything else.

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