Missouri Republicans push for no-tax road funding

Top Republicans have proposed a plan to fix Missouri roads and bridges with money being saved by cuts to welfare programs.

Rather than raise the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon fuel tax, GOP leaders say recent changes in programs for the poor will allow the state to generate $1 billion to $2 billion for road programs over the next decade.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, said the proposal would help Missouri create a “well-developed infrastructure that is critical to ensuring the effective functioning of the economy.”

The measure comes after the endorsement by a Senate committee of a plan to raise the state’s gasoline tax by 1.5 cents to launch a road upgrade program. The tax increase concept is also supported by the Missouri Department of Transportation and Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, who sharply criticized the no-tax plan on Wednesday.

Nixon’s spokeswoman Channing Ansley, in a statement, said, “By diverting general revenue toward road funding, this budget gimmick could jeopardize priorities such as local public schools, higher education and services for Missourians with developmental disabilities and mental illness. The Governor has been clear that he supports fiscally responsible ways to invest in our roads and bridges without putting priorities like education and mental health at risk.”

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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