Ballot Initiative Lets Motorists Off Hook
In Sunday’s Columbia Daily Tribune, my editorial, “Ballot Initiative Lets Motorists Off Hook,” made the case that user fees, and not a general sales tax, should pay for highways in Missouri.
A ballot initiative proposes to implement a general sales tax to raise money for critical infrastructure projects in the state. However, the lack of funding for highways is the result of a falling real gas tax and increasing vehicle fuel efficiency. Along with the lack of tolling, this has meant funding for highways is decreasing as the cost of repairs escalates. As a chart created from our new website Show-Me Data illustrates, it has been many years since Missouri raised its gasoline tax:
However, a sales tax unfairly burdens those who drive less and subsidizes the actions of those who drive more. This encourages overuse of the roads and more congestion in Missouri. If the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) needs more funds to maintain and expand highway infrastructure, raising the gas tax or implementing tolls is superior to sales tax in terms of both fairness and economic efficiency.
For more about transportation funding, read our writings about a “HOT” route for a proposed South Saint Louis County Connector, opposition to past road funding sales taxes, and changing the transportation paradigm in Missouri.