JEFFERSON CITY - A bipartisan group of representatives voted to kill a 2 cent gasoline tax increase measure in the House Transportation Committee Tuesday, April 21.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Keith English, I-St. Louis County, would have permanently raised the gas tax from 17 cents to 19 cents per gallon without requiring voter approval. According to state estimates, the increase would generate an additional $55 million per year in funds to be spent on Missouri's infrastructure.
$55 million is a rather small portion of the money needed to fund the state's infrastructure projects, but the 2 cent increase would be less than the required amount to trigger voter approval of the tax increase.
In this case, the gas tax increase proposal was a bipartisan issue. Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, spoke of his concerns regarding ailing bridge infrastructure in his district.
"We've already had two bridges that they've had to drop the load limits on because of the condition of the bridges," Lant said. "I think this is something we need to get started on."
Rep. Bob Burns, D-St. Louis County, echoed Lant's worries, citing poor road conditions in the state's rural areas.
"Something's got to be done seriously about our infrastructure in this state," Burns said. "Or instead of lowering weight limits, we're going to have a bridge collapse, which would be a catastrophe."
However, Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, raised questions about the disparity in taxation the measure would create. Vehicles using alternative fuels and electric cars would receive no tax increases at all, even though they use the same roads as gas-powered cars.
"I think we need to look at taxing everybody on an equal type basis, even though there are more than one way to fuel your vehicle and move it down the road," Korman said.
Ultimately, the committee rejected the measure by a vote of 5-6, with twice as many Democrats voting against the proposal than for it.
A similar Senate measure was stalled on the chamber floor last week, after leading Republican fiscal hawks decided they would not support the bill.
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