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Your Opinion: Sales tax for highways opposed

Dear Editor:

The proposed 1 percent sales tax to fund highway improvement is a bad idea.

For one, there is considerable traffic on major highways that simply passes through the state. This is especially true of large trucks. These travelers put a lot of wear on Missouri roads but don’t spend much on items that generate sales tax.

Second, businesses benefit tremendously from our roads but don’t pay sales tax on their products (even those bought for resale) or most equipment they use — customers will bear the burden of the 1 percent sales tax while business may not pay anything. 

Some may say that businesses will only pass their costs on to customers but customers should get to decide whether the costs businesses charge are too high (not government through inequitable taxation).

Third, revenue from a dedicated sales tax would make it easy for the Legislature to divert the general revenue that already goes to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Citizens need to pay attention to this legislation because it is a significant tax increase. 

It is disconcerting that this huge tax increase appears vigorously promoted by Sen. Kehoe, a Republican. I thought the Republican goal was less taxation, not more.

It is also disconcerting that MoDOT went through a downsizing in 2011 in which many employees were laid-off or made to compete for their own jobs in order to free up money for highway improvements. What happened to the $500 million or so that was supposed to be redirected to highway projects as a result of the downsizing and was it worth the hardship on many dedicated MoDOT employees and their families? 

I seem to recall that Sen. Kehoe supported the downsizing. The public deserves a straightforward accounting by MoDOT regarding what was accomplished and what happened to that money before the proposed sales tax is advanced.

It is time for citizens to speak up on issues and actions that are not in their best interest. Missouri needs road system improvements but a sales tax is not a fair and equitable way to do it. If you are in doubt on this issue, go to http://moga.mo.gov/statutes/c100-199/1440000030.htm to see who is exempt from sales tax and won’t pay for highway improvements under the proposed legislation.

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