by Jim Fitzpatrick
One of the most audacious elements of Amendment 7 is that the proponents are so desperate to shift the burden of transportation to a three-quarter-cent sales tax that they want to change the Missouri Constitution.
Section 30 of the constitution states clearly that transportation projects are to be paid for with gas taxes, sales taxes on vehicle purchases, and vehicle license fees. The idea — entirely logical — is for vehicle-related revenue streams to pay for transportation projects. But the proponents of Amendment 7 want to flip logic onto its head by imposing a general sales tax on all Missouri residents, regardless of how much they use the roads. The proponents would increase the most regressive of all taxes — the one that hits hardest those least able to afford it. And guess what? The truckers and trucking companies, which put the most wear and tear on state roads and highways, would get a pass. That’s what I mean about trying to shift the burden: The proponents of Amendment 7 want everyone else to buy the paint for their pretty picture.
We can’t let them get away with it!
The state Constitution offers a clear avenue for raising new transportation revenue: raising the state’s gas tax.
That tax has stood at 17 cents a gallon – sixth lowest in the nation as of last year — since 1996, or almost 20 years. If the Missouri General Assembly and the “concrete cartel” (essentially, the heavy constructors, the engineering companies and the materials suppliers) want to raise more money for transportation needs, they should come back to us with a proposal to raise the gas tax.
That’s the appropriate way to go. That’s the fair way to go.
Jim Fitzpatrick is a Kansas City resident. He is a retired reporter and editor for The Kansas City Star