AP) – Missouri lawmakers are looking beyond the usual places for funding road and bridge repairs after they promised to make it a priority this session.
In about two weeks, House Republicans hope to send the Senate a budget that includes roughly $30 million to revive the Missouri Department of Transportation’s cost-sharing program. The department typically splits half the cost of an infrastructure project with a local government.
The only other transportation funding likely to materialize this year, said House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, is if voters approve an increase to the tobacco tax in November. Other tobacco tax increases failed in 2002, 2006 and 2012, though the latest fell short by only 1.5 percentage points.
The Senate is slated next week to debate raising the fuel tax by 1.5 cents for gasoline and 3.5 cents for diesel, a proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. Doug Libla with support from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. But it faces strong headwinds: Many Republicans in the Senate – several of whom face primaries in their campaigns for higher office – are reluctant to raise taxes, and House Speaker Todd Richardson has ruled out any tax increases.