OUR VIEW Speak up: Do you support an increase in the state’s gas tax?

Saturday, May 1, 2021

A Missouri House committee voted unanimously this week to support an increase in the state’s gas tax.

The current proposal from the House Transportation Committee would raise the tax by 12.5 cents during the next five years, resulting in a tax of 29.5 cents per gallon. It would be the first increase since 1996. Missouri’s current tax of 17 cents a gallon is among the lowest in the nation.

The Missouri Senate approved a similar measure in March, with supporters saying the state needs the increased revenue to repair and upgrade deteriorating infrastructure. The tax was forecast to generate more than $450 million.

The House has about three weeks left in the session to vote on the matter and Rep. Hardy Billington, R-Poplar Bluff, is asking area residents to let him know what they think.

“On major issues such as a gas tax increase, it is crucial that I know where my constituents stand before casting my vote,” said Billington.

The bills would phase in the taxes over five years, according to Billington. The Senate bill is a 12.5 cent increase, while the House bill is 10 cents. Both bills would allow motorists affected by the increase to apply for a refund for the additional costs they incur.

Currently, Missouri highway conditions rank in the lower half of states, he added in a recent press release. According to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 2019 Missouri ranked 36th in the percentage of state highway miles with “acceptable” pavement quality.

We want to thank Rep. Billington for reaching out to voters on this matter and encourage everyone to share their thoughts with him by calling 573-751-4039, or through email at hardy.billington@house.mo.gov.

We’re also posting a poll on our website and Facebook page, and hope readers will share their thoughts there, or by emailing dfarley.dar@gmail.com.

What do you think about the gas tax proposal?

Do you see it as something necessary for the continued improvement of our core infrastructure, as legislators have said for many years?

In 2016, then Sen. Doug Libla advocated for a similar measure, saying, “We’re sitting here with 640 critical bridges … that means you’re just one step closer to being closed or to a weight restriction to where a school bus couldn’t even go over it.

“We have not increased funding to MoDOT to take care of those bridges for 20 years. We operate right now on 17 cents (tax) per gallon, which is the same number since 1996.”

But small business owners, like a Southeast Missouri trucking company, said at the same time the increase would eat up small profit margins and hurt their ability to continue operating.

It’s the same debate that continues five years later.

The newest effort also increases fees on electric vehicles and looks at banning people as commercial drivers if they are caught using trucks or other vehicles to traffick humans.

Gov. Mike Parson and business and labor groups also support the proposed increase.

What do you think?

Please take this opportunity to find out more about a crucial bill before our legislators and share your thoughts with us and your representatives.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: