Missouri voters have their best opportunity in years to improve their roads, and that’s vital for public safety and economic growth. The 10-cent increase in the state’s gas tax is worthy of their support on Nov. 6.
The current tax, 17 cents a gallon, is the second-lowest in the nation. That 17 cents has less than half of the buying power it had 22 years ago, when the tax was last changed. And the particular makeup of Missouri is such that we have the seventh-largest state network of roads in the country.
Stopgap measures have helped, but ultimately something has to give. The state has at times veered near the point of not having enough money for its full match of federal funds. Bottom line: Many of our roads and bridges are crumbling.
This added 10 cents would be phased in two and a half cents a year for four years. That’s $1.25 a month for the average driver.
At the full 27 cents, the tax would raise an added $412 million a year. Most of it, 70 percent, would go for state roads. The other 30 percent comes back to communities – $1.84 million a year for Independence, $827,000 for Blue Springs, $202,000 for Grain Valley – which would help greatly with local infrastructure maintenance.
Let’s be clear: This is a needed step to take care of the roads and bridges the state has. It’s not, however, enough to tackle rebuilding Interstate 70. That’s badly needed, too, but it’s also a future conversation.
For once, we have a solid plan on the ballot with the state’s leadership – the governor, the Missouri Farm Bureau, local chambers of commerce, others – on board. Let’s not squander this chance.