Will this be the year a proposal to increase the Missouri gasoline tax passes?
During this final week of the Missouri Legislature’s regular session, a proposed increase in the gasoline tax is expected to pass to the driver’s seat.
The House of Representatives plans to work on a bill that would gradually increase user fees by 12.5 cents in total over five years. Senate Speaker Dave Schatz R-Sullivan is proposing legislation that includes a rebate option for most drivers who do not want to pay the amount of the increase.
Another provision would increase annual charges on electric vehicles by 20% per year over a five-year period. The plan would also create a task force to study the impact of electric vehicles on the state’s transportation funding.
The States House Rules Committee on Friday voted 7 to 4 to move the measure forward. A budget review committee is reviewing the proposal today.
Missouri’s fuel tax of 17 cents per gallon has not been increased since 1996, despite the nation’s 7th largest highway system. Alaska is the only state with a lower gasoline tax – at a rate of eight cents a gallon.
MoDOT’s current fuel tax rate generated about $ 692 million in 2020. Schatz’s bill is expected to raise an additional $ 500 million per year to be spent on maintaining Missouri’s roads and bridges.
Governor Mike Parson has expressed his support for Schatz’s proposal. Many lawmakers agree that state funding for infrastructure needs to be increased, but they clash with the approach to take.
In 2002, 2014 and 2018, voters in Missouri opposed voting measures that would have increased funding to meet the state’s highway needs.
Jeff Glenn is the executive director of a national group called Missourians For Transportation Investment. The Cape Girardeau-based organization, founded in 2015, promotes adequate investment in the state’s transportation system. It is made up of a large coalition of trade groups, local chambers of commerce, engineers, agricultural groups, etc.
Glenn tells Missourinet that an increase in funding for the state’s highway system goes well beyond contractors, engineering companies and tradespeople.
“Transportation infrastructure is one of the most important decision points for companies considering relocating or expanding. It is important for us to have adequate roads and bridges so that we can support not only the transportation industry, but our entire economy. Our road and bridge system is truly the backbone of Missouri’s economy, ”he says.
Glenn says Missouri is in desperate need of increased funding for freeways in all parts of the state.
“When every region of the state has projects that they can’t do because there isn’t enough funding, it’s really not a pie-sharing problem. It’s because we don’t have a big enough pie. So that’s one of the things we hope we can accomplish. The reason Senate Bill 262 passes is to be able to bake that bigger cake, ”says Glenn.
He says when the bill is fully implemented, the average passenger car driver driving 12,000 miles per year would pay an additional $ 70 per year.
“If they don’t want to pay for this, all they have to do is submit that claim and their raise would be zero,” Glenn says. “When you think about that and think about the average passenger vehicle, about $ 70 a year, you look at about $ 6 a month, that’s what the extra fuel tax costs the average driver to be able to drive on. better roads and better bridges. . “
For pickups, he says the average increase would be less than $ 100 per year.
Some arguments against an increase in the fuel tax include that Missourians are sufficiently taxed as is and that the state’s transportation department needs to do a better job to be efficient.
“Believe me, I don’t like paying taxes any more than anyone else. But I know that some government functions have to be government functions. And so, you need to collect taxes for these functions. There will be no individuals going out and building roads and bridges. The government has to do this, ”he said. “For those who do not want to invest in the public transport system, they have this option to be able to claim this reimbursement.”
Glenn says the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has been recognized as one of the most efficient transportation agencies in the country.
According to Morgan Mundell, president of Missourians for Transportation Investment, Like Missouri Roads and Bridges, the state’s ability to fund the maintenance and repair of transportation infrastructure is deteriorating.
“With the last gasoline tax signed by then-Governor John Ashcroft in 1992, inflation eroded the ability to maintain one of our state’s most vital assets. Our roads and bridges get us to work, help our children get to school, get our farmers’ produce to markets, and provide the foundation upon which Missouri’s economy is built. This week, Missouri House will be using SB262, which is designed to provide a long-term solution to this problem. We urge the Missouri House of Representatives to pass SB262 and help Missouri prepare for the future for the safety and security of our families and our economy, ”Mundell said in a statement.
The Missouri Trucking Association is another supporter of a fuel tax increase. The organization represents approximately 600 member companies, large and small.
President and CEO Tom Crawford told Missourinet that although MoDOT has one of the most efficient transport services in the country, he said the agency is fighting a losing battle without proper road funding.
Crawford says his members wholeheartedly support a raise, although most of them will not be eligible for a rebate.
“Try to follow a super busy trip that starts or ends in Missouri and see how they get to where they need to be,” says Crawford. “It’s a challenge and it’s a challenge that has gotten worse – not better – over the past 20 years. We simply lack the infrastructure and have not made the necessary investments to keep up with it. “
He cites the state’s weighted average fuel tax rate being 19 cents per gallon in 1997 – just one year after Missouri’s gasoline tax rose to 17 cents per gallon. Today, the weighted average state fuel tax rate has climbed to nearly 37 cents, even though the Missouri fuel tax remains at 17 cents per gallon.
Another part of the problem for the trucking industry is the time wasted taking detours due to weight limits of bridges and traffic jams. In 2016, American truckers experienced nearly 1.2 billion hours of delays on the national highway system due to traffic congestion. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the delay equates to 425,533 commercial truck drivers inactive for a full year of work.
“The lack of funding and the situation we find ourselves in in Missouri have a huge impact, not only on the trucking industry and on our ability to serve our communities in Missouri, more than 70% of which rely exclusively on trucks for have their goods delivered. to them, ”he said. “So the lack of infrastructure funding in Missouri, the challenges we face in trying to get these goods to these communities, the infrastructure that causes traffic jams, that causes delays, rerouting and things like that,” the list goes on and on. . “
The government and the trucking industry struck an agreement in the 1980s to create the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). The deal means truckers in the lower 48 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces owe a fuel tax based on the number of miles driven in each state – not the amount of fuel they buy in each state. When truckers refuel, they pay into an account and settle in at the end of each quarter. But the state’s gasoline tax rate can put some truckers in a dilemma.
“Every other state you go to will be subject to a higher fuel tax than what you pay if you just refuel in Missouri,” says Crawford. “We heard two different things. Companies that are just refueling in Missouri, they owe at the end of the quarter. When they go to settle their accounts and pay the various amounts to the states in which they are located, they owe additional money in their accounts. They haven’t paid enough at the pump to cover their mileage wherever they run. “
Crawford says that due to Missouri’s low gasoline tax rate of 17 cents per gallon, some truckers often avoid refueling here to make sure they don’t have to pay additional taxes on the gasoline. fuel.
“A lot of Missouri-based carriers are purchasing fuel in Illinois because of the incentive packages and the fact that they don’t have to pay more into their account at the end of the quarter,” he says. “Missouri still gets its 17 cents, but what it loses is everything else. When a truck stops to refuel, it has a lot of additional amenities that you just can’t find in the regular convenience store. They have showers. Some of them have medical facilities. Some of them have an extended shopping area, a waiting area.
The Senate has already passed the bill in its current form.
To consult Senate Bill 262, click here.
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