|To the editor:
Proponents of the 3/4 cent transportation sales tax say - “the fuel tax raises less revenue because we are driving less and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles”. If we’re driving less, then why build massive new highways and enact the largest tax hike in state history? And, if we’re driving more fuel efficient vehicles, then we’re buying less gas and can afford to pay 10 cents more per gallon in the fuel tax? This tax has been 17 cents since 1992 while gas has gone up from $1.20 to $3.40. As a percent, it would now be 47 cents. Missouri has the sixth-largest road system in the nation, yet has the sixth-lowest gas tax.
Because the fuel tax is so low, trucking companies, who are exempt from sales taxes, only pay 50% of the damage they do to highways. Most truck traffic passes through and does not serve Missouri business so they will be getting a free ride from taxpayers. To their credit, however, the Missouri and national trucking associations favor higher fuel taxes. Even Ronald Reagan, a true conservative, raised the federal gas tax, aptly calling it a “user fee”. Why do “social conservative” Republicans say they support working families but cut income taxes for the wealthy and raise sales taxes which hurt working families?
Over $2.3 million has been donated to help pass this tax by businesses who stand to benefit. Heavy contractors gave $320,000 and unions gave $100,000. Large sums also came from engineering firms, heavy equipment dealers and concrete and asphalt producers in line for new projects worth billions. These vested interests are trying very hard to tilt the election their way.
A 3/4 cent increase would put Missouri’s sales tax at 8.33 percent, making it the ninth-highest in the country. Sales taxes are regressive and hit everyone regardless if they even own a car or only drive a little - that's patently unfair. On August 5, please vote no and prevent another burden from being placed on already struggling low wage workers, single parents with children, senior citizens on fixed incomes, and local businesses competing against national online retailers exempt from the sales tax.
Roy Dudark, Columbia, MO