Missouri voters return road money to roads
11/04/2004 - 9:00:47 am
Voters on Nov. 2 overwhelming approved Constitution Amendment No. 3, which requires “all revenues from the existing motor vehicle fuel tax (less collection costs) be used only for state and local highways, roads and bridges.” The amendment also calls for the use of all other vehicle taxes and fees to pay off the state’s highway bonds.
More than 78 percent of those voting – 1.9 million – approved the measure, with only 21 percent – roughly 521,000 – voting against it, according to figures from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.
OOIDA has long opposed spending fuel taxes and vehicle fees for non-highway purposes.
Opponents of Amendment 3 contended the plan would divert money from other state programs, such as education and health care, both of which have long received part of vehicle sales taxes. In an editorial, The Kansas City Star, one of the state’s largest newspapers, encouraged voters to reject Amendment 3 for that reason.
However, the newspaper pointed out before Election Day that Amendment 3 would also take $30 million in fuel tax now diverted to non-highway state duties and return it to highway uses – an action the newspaper said it endorsed.
Missouri’s highways and highway funding have been a political bone of contention for years.
Many of the highways are showing their age, and the state’s Department of Transportation reneged in recent years on a 1992 promise to build a four-lane divided highway to every community in the state with over 5,000 in population. Even though the department abandoned the plan, it kept the tax that supported it.
In addition, state officials recently proposed the idea of adding tolls to increase the number of lanes on Interstate 70, the main east-west route between the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas. The state’s constitution forbids tolling, and voters in Missouri have twice rejected proposals to change that provision.
– By Mark Reddig, associate editor Land Line Magazine