***UPDATE TUESDAY 8:12 P.M.***A future toll-road doesn’t look likely, according to the 22-member citizens committee appointed to look into the needs of Missouri’s transportation system.The Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee presented their findings Tuesday afternoon at the State Capitol after holding seven regional meetings with hundreds of people throughout the state. The consensus was formed that people would prefer taxes (sales/fuel) over building a toll-road on I-70 from St. Joseph to Springfield and Columbia and other cities. “What struck me as odd was when we’re in Southern Missouri and they don’t drive on I-70 but they didn’t want a toll road up there,” said co-chairman of the committee, former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton. The members say Missouri has one of the longest highways compared to neighboring states, but one of the lowest taxes.For instance, Missouri covers more than 33,000 miles, tripling that of neighboring Kansas, but has lower gasoline, diesel and sales tax rates. Missouri’s sales tax rates at 4.225 is the lowest out of all neighboring states, which includes Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Something that the committee says may have to change in order to come up with the 600-800 million dollars needed each year to meet transportation needs to expand roads and fix bridges. But the idea of raising taxes did not fly well with House Speaker Tim Jones (R). “We’re facing every year with a bloating entitlement system, and I’d rather spend the money on education, roads and bridges and less on entitlement systems, ” said Speaker Jones. Jetton said he is personally in favor of a sales tax, because one penny raise would bring in about 600 million dollars a year. But he adds it’s likely the legislators will come up with a combination of solutions, and the group said the findings will serve to educate legislators on the needs of the infrastructure and what the public wants. ***ORIGINAL STORY*** JEFFERSON CITY (AP) – A special task force is preparing to release its recommendation for Missouri’s transportation system.The Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri’s Transportation Needs scheduled a news conference to release the report Tuesday afternoon at the state Capitol.The committee has been led by former Republican House Speaker Rod Jetton and by former Highways and Transportation Commission member Bill McKenna.The panel says more than 800 people attended meetings it held in seven cities throughout Missouri. It has focused on a variety of transportation issues.
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