AP) – More than two dozen interest groups from across the political spectrum are backing a proposed increase to the state’s fuel taxes, signaling bipartisan and private-sector support for what would be the first such hike in more than two decades that’s aimed at repairing roads and bridges.
The proposal would raise Missouri’s gasoline tax by 1.5 cents a gallon and diesel by 3.5 cents a gallon. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has already voiced support for the measure, and legislative leaders say transportation funding will be a top priority this year.
Chambers of commerce, heavy construction and engineering trade groups, and municipal and county government associations were among those who testified in favor of the legislation Wednesday at a Senate transportation committee hearing.
Some groups that would pay more under a gas tax increase, such as the Missouri Trucking Association, say improving the state’s roads are worth the cost. Others, such as the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, say they support an even larger tax hike. And policy analyst Joseph Miller with the Show-Me Institute, which generally opposes tax increases but supports this bill, called it a fairer way to pay for roads instead of a sales tax.
The last time Missouri raised its fuel tax was 1992, when lawmakers voted to gradually increase it to 17 cents per gallon. Inflation has since eroded the relative purchasing power of that tax down to about 8 cents, said Sen. Doug Libla, the Poplar Bluff Republican who chairs the committee and sponsored the bill.