How Should We Pay for Transportation in Missouri?
Today’s Southeast Missourian asks the above question about Missouri transportation funding in an editorial (link via a certain Mr. Combest). They leave it as an open-ended question, asked as a follow-up to a presentation by the Missouri Transportation Alliance at a recent forum in Cape Girardeau.
This is one question for which the Show-Me Institute has some answers. And, yes, those answers might have to include a gas tax increase. They should also include a dramatic expansion of tolling — and, if that tolling is done via public-private partnership (PPP), then it wouldn’t first be necessary to amend the state’s Constitution (at least, according to MoDOT’s opinion). The important thing, in my opinion, is to keep any tax increases as analogous as possible to user fees, like the gas tax, and away from general taxes that move in the wrong direction by externalizing internal costs. We should be striving to internalize costs to the greatest practical degree, such as through gas taxes, tolling, and license fees, not the other way around.
For more information, read the op-ed I wrote on the subject of private financing for Missouri transportation, the related testimony I provided, and our primary studies of tolling, PPPs, etc.