State leaders discuss transportation after Amendment 7 fails

MO Amendment 7 fails, leaders make plans moving forward

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - State leaders laid out their plans after a Missouri state sales tax for transportation failed.

Amendment 7 on Tuesday's ballot would have raised the sales tax in Missouri by 3/4 of a cent.

The money would have been used for transportation related projects through ten years, but nearly 60% of voters rejected it.

MoDOT Director Dave Nichols said his department will not be able to match federal funding by 2020.

With the amendment defeated, Nichols and Highways and Transportation Commission Chairman Steve Miller said it's time to open up a robust public discussion on how Missouri will pay for its roads.

At a news conference Wednesday, Miller said he respects the will of the people deciding the state sales tax wasn't the way to fund roads, but he wasn't sure when a new proposal would be on the ballot, if at all. 

Miller said that puts more pressure on everyone to find a solution.

"When I say 'pressure', I mean, it's just the reality. Our roads age every day. Our demands for the state increase every day. So it's going to be a practical pressure that will just be on all of us as Missourians to find a solution."

ABC 17 also talked to Jeanette Mott Oxford, the director of the Missouri Association of Social Welfare, a group that opposed Amendment 7. She suggested lawmakers look to the fuel tax to fund road repair.

"We pay for it with our gas when we fill up our tank," Mott Oxford said. "The more you drive, the more you pay. If you're using the highways a lot, therefore there's kind of a proportional use mechanism involved."

Missouri's fuel tax is 17 cents for each gallon bought, but lawmakers last raised that tax in 1996, part of a gradual increase passed in 1992.

"Let's bring it up so that it's purchasing power equals what it was when it was last raised," Mott Oxford said. "And let's put an inflation calculator on it so that we don't lose ground in the future."

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