Bipartisan panel to investigate highway funding

Highway funding remains a hot-button issue in Jefferson City (Garrett Bergquist)

The architect of a new transportation task force on Thursday said prior efforts haven't considered solutions that are politically feasible.

Highway funding took a back seat to other issues this year. Efforts to raise the state's fuel tax went nowhere, and some lawmakers suggested prohibiting the state from creating toll roads. Rep. Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City) said there needs to be a consensus before anyone puts forward a solution to MoDOT's funding shortage.

"We've got a new governor in office. We need to bring him on board on any plans we're making," he said.

Corlew sponsored legislation this year creating a bipartisan task force to investigate the problems facing Missouri's transportation infrastructure. Lawmakers approved his measure earlier this week. But some, like Harrisonville Republican Rep. Rick Brattin, think the panel is unnecessary. Brattin said the state has already had several blue-ribbon panels look into transportation. He said eliminating tax credits and giving the additional money to MoDOT would be an easy solution.

"Right off the top, you know, $500 million that goes to corporate welfare," he said. "I mean, $500 million to throw in our roadways would be tremendous."

The task force will meet no later than early July, with a report due by January 1, 2018.

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