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Proposed Tax Would Pay for Roads

***UPDATE 4 P.M.***Missouri lawmakers say there are only a handful of funding sources that are on the decline and the largest source, the gas tax, has been declining for years.Lawmakers, led by Jefferson City senator Mike Kehoe, are proposing a new one-cent sales tax for ten years that would fund transportation projects, but the sales tax may be hard to pass. The last time a statewide sales tax was passed was in 1987.House and Senate lawmakers say there are many out of work bidders ready to get paid again and the bidding process for infrastructure projects would be aggressive. Officials say the bidding will be aggressive and they can expect the best possible contracts.”Missouri’s rural roads need shoulders, we need rumble stripes, we need to expand our corridors,” said Senator Mike Kehoe. “MoDOT’s done their part, they’ve tightened their belt, they’ve taken their steps they need to do to make sure the department is running as efficiently as it can.”Lawmakers say there are too many deadly roads in the state and they claim if the legislation is passed, road officials would be able to target those roadways immediately.The bill’s sponsor says they aren’t in any position to say exactly how much money will go to certain roads like I-70, I-44 and Highway 50. Others claim this is one of a few options that focuses on long-term solutions rather than short-term, especially for rural areas.”More of a public safety aspect, i want those shoulders widened on the rural roads, straighten out,” said Rep. Dave Hinson. “As Ryan said, ‘no more blood alleys.'”Transportation officials tell me the point of their jobs is simple: to make sure the roads are safe. They say they need money because they are having a tough time doing their jobs.”We’ve gone from about 1.2 billion dollars in a highway program that’s now about 600 to 700 million dollars per year,” said Dave Nichols of Missouri Department of Transportation. “It barely allows us to keep the system maintained.”If the bill is passed by the House and Senate and then signed by Gov. Nixon, it is expected to show up on the November 2014 ballot. If voters approve it, they will be asked to renew it when it expires in ten years.***ORIGINAL STORY***JEFFERSON CITY (AP) – Two Missouri state senators are proposing a 1-cent sales tax for 10 years to pay for transportation needs.The proposed sales tax increase was introduced Tuesday in the Senate. It would require voter approval to enact and to continue after 10 years.Republican Mike Kehoe, of Jefferson City, and Democrat Ryan McKenna, of Crystal City, trumpeted the idea during a news conference along U.S. Highway 50 several miles east of the state Capitol. They were joined by Republican House supporters Dave Hinson, of St. Clair, and Dave Schatz, of Sullivan.Kehoe says a dedicated transportation sales tax would help fill a hole in Missouri’s infrastructure funding.Missouri transportation officials have said funding for construction and improvements fell from $1.2 billion to less than $700 million during the past year.

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