Possible sales tax to pay for transportation needs

Jefferson City State Senator Mike Kehoe will lead the effort to get a sales tax for highway construction on the 2014 ballot. Kehoe announced the legislation Tuesday morning.

State officials said it is time to stop talking about funding transportation and to do something about it.

Senator Mike Kehoe said, "This conversation as gone on long enough where I think it's the people's right to decide if they want to continue with the infrastructure that we so badly need.â??

Kehoe's legislation called for a ballot question to approve a one-cent general sales tax. It would last ten years and generate almost $8 billion.

Kehoe said, "MODoTâ??s done their part. They've tightened their belt. They've take steps to make sure the department is running as efficiently as it possibly can. And now, I think it's our turn."

Missouri voters have not passed a statewide sales tax in 25 years and have even rejected taxes that most would not pay, such as tobacco taxes.

There is also the competing interest of new bonding debt for college campus construction. Governor Nixon Monday recommended some distance between the two. But supporters donâ??t want to delay a decision. They longer road projects are left undone, the more costly they become.

Rudy Farber, Transportation Commission Chairman said, "We need to make sure that we do as well for the generation that follows us as the generation that preceded us.â??

Mike Kehoe said there will be protections built into the sales tax law.

First, it would be created by constitutional amendment that dedicates the money to transportation and prevents lawmakers from using it for any other purpose.

It would prohibit toll roads and fuel tax increases during the ten-year period, after which voters could decide whether to extend the sales tax.

Prior to the public vote, the transportation commission would have to commit to and publish as specific list of projects to be funding by the tax.

Plus, the commission would be required to publish annual reports on the progress in completing those projects.