by Matthew Patane
Missouri needs up to an additional $1 billion annually to pay for improvements and repairs of the state’s transportation system, according to a report released Tuesday, Jan. 8.
The Blue Ribbon Citizens Committee on Missouri’s Transportation Needs released the report the day before the start of the 2013 legislative session. The report states that Missouri needs between an additional $600 million and $1 billion annually to improve and repair the state’s transportation infrastructure.
“We need to take care of the system that we have,” committee co-chair Bill McKenna said, noting that Missouri’s transportation system includes more than just roads and bridges. “Right now MoDOT is funded as a road and bridge department and not a transportation department.”
The commission did not recommend any specific proposal to meet the funding needs.
McKenna, a Democrat and former Senate president pro tem, led the 22-member committee with Republican and former House Speaker Rod Jetton. The committee was formed during last year’s legislative session by then House Speaker Steve Tilley. It has spent the last three months traveling across the state seeking public opinion on the needs of the state’s transportation system.
While not offering any specific recommendation, the committee did suggest several avenues state lawmakers could follow, such as toll roads, bonds or increasing the state sales or fuel tax.
House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said he would prefer revenue-neutral solutions or shifting general revenue money to increase funding for transportation. Jones also said he would rather spend less on entitlement programs, using the money to pay for education and transportation.
“I believe there’s plenty of government that has yet to be cut,” Jones said.