Thursday, January 24, 2013

House Transportation Committee Chairman offers thoughts on dealing with aging infrastructure

In his weekly newsletter, Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, chairman of the Transportation Committee, offers some thoughts on the city's aging infrastructure.

Missouri’s aging infrastructure is an issue we need to find a solution for.  As Chairman of the Transportation Committee, I feel we need to find common sense solutions that will not only help us in maintaining our current transportation infrastructure but also look to the future.  There are many ideas for what that solution should be. A recent task force estimated that Missouri needs an additional $600 million to $1 billion annually to pay for improvements to the state's transportation system.
 A new house committee has been created to evaluate bond proposals and work out details for a plan. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer previously filed a proposal that would allow the issuance of up to $950 million in bonds. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, Chairman of  the House Appropriations – Infrastructure and Job Creation Committee, said the same version would be filed in the House, but that what ultimately moves forward would emerge from the work of the committees. 
 Another possible solution would be a dedicated funding source used for transportation systems only, similar to the Conservation tax. Currently, we are looking at a voter referendum to be submitted to voters in November 2014 to create a dedicated 1% sales tax to be used for all forms of transportation including but not limited to highways, roads, bridges, ports, and rails.  Included in this referendum is a 10 year sunset, when voters would need to decide if the tax should be continued.  If approved, a portion of this 1% temporary sales tax would go to all counties and their municipalities. Additional revenue is estimated to be $713 million annually to the state department of transportation and $79 million annually to the various cities and counties.  Implementation costs are expected to be minimal. This funding would be in addition to what is currently appropriated for transportation.

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