Senate votes to put proposed transportation sales-tax hike before voters

By Jessica Mensch

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate scaled down a proposed sales-tax increase for highway construction.

The House previously endorsed a 1-cent sales tax that would go toward improving transportation infrastructure.

However, the sponsor, Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, reduced the sales tax to a three-fourths-cent increase in hopes of persuading the opposition to pass the measure.

“Our transportation system is the seventh largest in the United States and we are 43rd in funding,” Kehoe said. “As I told the senator from the 11th yesterday, I’m not a cook, but that’s a bad recipe.”

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City, expressed concerns about how passage of the bill could disproportionately affect low-income residents. However, she ultimately voted in favor of the increase because of its possibility to create jobs.

“We’re still trying to recover from a deep, deep recession. We were hit extremely hard and we’re still trying to recover. I think it is our job and our duty to create jobs,” Nasheed said.

Kehoe also cited job creation as a benefit.

“They would be producing an asset that Missourians could touch, feel and see,” he said. “So this would not be an investment in jobs that we’re just doing to do. This would be projects that actually serve our economy and serve our families.”

The Senate voted in favor of putting the constitutional amendment before voters. It now goes back to the House.