Sales-tax-hike proposal for road repairs OK’d by Senate

By Alexander Mallin

Even though Missourians have consistently voted against tax hikes when presented with them on the ballot, the state Senate passed a measure Thursday that would ask voters whether the state sales tax should be raised to provide funding for state roads and transportation.

The proposed amendment to the state Constitution would let voters decide whether the state sales tax should be raised by one cent for 10 years. The revenue generated from the tax increase would be dedicated to the state’s transportation systems and provide money for the maintenance and repair of Missouri’s roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

Proposed tax increases have not fared well in the past. Missouri voters have not approved a tax increase in more than 25 years, and last November struck down a proposed increase in the state’s tobacco tax.

Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jeffefson City, who sponsored the proposed amendment, said Missourians will approve a tax increase if they can see the benefits it will have on the economy.

“I think people thought the cigarette tax was too much and too aggressive,” Kehoe said. “I’m not trying to say that transportation is more important than education, but each one of these issues has to stand on its own and I think this has a pretty good chance of standing on its own.”

Instead of raising taxes, Sen. John Lamping, R-St. Louis County, said lawmakers should focus on lowering taxes for Missourians.

“I think the bill put before us today, puts us on the wrong road,” Lamping said. “I think this bill proposes constructing a road that will lead to bigger government and … higher taxes.”

The proposal now moves to the House.