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Missouri lawmakers consider asking voters to fund state department

Missouri voters could have the ability to vote away a decades-old sales tax, if a proposal from a Lawrence County representative receives approval from state lawmakers.

Members of a Missouri House committee heard public testimony on a resolution proposed by Rep. Mike Moon, R – Ash Grove, that would sunset the conservation sales and use tax, a .125% tax that has been in place since 1977.

The resolution- which is a constitutional amendment that would require statewide majority vote before going into effect- would require the tax to be renewed every six years.

According to a note prepared by the committee on legislative research, the tax collects about 61% of the Missouri Department on Conservation. In previous fiscal years, the tax has allocated the following amounts to the MDC:

FY 2018 $105,366,727 FY 2017 $102,996,364 FY 2016 $102,097,522 FY 2015 $97,798,674 FY 2014 $95,152,940 FY 2013 $91,469,530

Moon said during his opening statement the proposal was not meant to target the MDC, which he said is using money effectively. He said Missourians should be able periodically approve the tax, whether it’s every six years or another length of time.

Aaron Jeffries, the deputy director of the MDC, said several operations of the department would be at risk if the tax were allowed to sunset.

“A lot of tough decisions would have to happen. You’re looking at 15 nature centers, 70 shooting ranges, a private land program assisting private land owners, our efforts to control disease and feral hogs in the state just to name a few.” Jeffries said. “Those take a lot of funding.”

MDC has not received any general revenue funding from the state legislator since the tax was approved by voters in 1977, according to Jeffries.

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