Apr. 28—Help for Missouri's road and bridge woes is close.
Recently, a House committee advanced a bill that would provide $500 million annually in additional funding for highway infrastructure in the state.
Among other things the bill would raise the state's gas tax by 2.5 cents per year for five years, but it has a mechanism so that people who do not want to pay the tax can file to get their money back.
While no one likes a tax hike, consider:
—Missouri's fuel tax, at 17 cents per gallon and among the lowest in the nation, isn't getting us where we need to be when you consider that we have the nation's seventh-largest road and bridge system. The difference between those two results in an average transportation funding shortfall of $825 million. At 29.5 cents per gallon we would still be below the national average.
—The low tax is actually hurting us. One study concluded that Missourians are actually losing $8 billion per year because of rough roads causing damage to vehicles, because of fuel waste caused by congestion and because of traffic accidents. For Southwest Missouri, the cost was estimated at $1,500 per driver.
—An investment in road and bridges will more than pay for itself. One of the organizations supporting the measure, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, completed a study last week showing that the investment would generate a positive impact of $1.8 billion and that it would support 17,000 jobs.
Daniel Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri chamber, said that with the action of the Missouri House Transportation Committee, "we have never been closer to finally passing this vital funding for our transportation system. We now call on the Missouri House to finish the job. ... It's time to act — Missouri can't wait."
We agree, and urge lawmakers to put the pedal to the metal on this.