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Highway sales tax petition under public comment period

Missourians have until Saturday to comment on a proposed initiative petition to raise the state’s sales tax by one percent, to benefit the highway system, Secretary of State Jason Kander announced Tuesday.

Kander’s office has approved the form of the petition submitted by Jefferson City lawyer Rodney Gray, and will take public comments while his staff works on the ballot language.

If it’s approved for circulation and supporters gather enough signatures, the proposed constitutional amendment would be up for a statewide vote in the November 2014 general election.

If passed by the public, the sales tax would go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, and be effective for 10 years.

The sales tax funds would be used “to provide additional moneys for state highway system purposes and uses, city streets, county roads and state transportation system purposes and uses,” the petition states in language that would be added to the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 30(e).1.

Five percent of the money raised by the sales tax would go toward the County Aid Transportation Fund.

Another five percent would go toward the Municipal Aid Transportation Fund.

And the final 90 percent would go toward Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund.

The petition drew words of support from state and county officials.

Robert Brendel, the state Transportation department’s outreach coordinator, said MoDOT is encouraged by the additional steps to increase funding.

Boone County Commissioner Karen Miller said while she hadn’t read the initiative petition yet, she believed that improvements must be made in funding.

“We have to find some solution for our transportation system,” Miller said. “So, hopefully, whatever the citizens come up with, we will be able to make improvements. Hopefully the citizens will approve something.”

The public comment period through the secretary of state’s website is “designed to make the process more transparent,” said Kevin Flannery, Kander’s deputy communications director.

Once the state auditor creates a fiscal note summary for the petition, and Kander’s staff creates a 100-word summary and ballot title, the public can be involved again.

As a proposed constitutional amendment, “Signatures must be obtained from registered voters equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor’s election, from six of the state’s eight congressional districts,” Flannery said.

In order to be considered for the November 2014 ballot, those signatures are due to the secretary of state’s office by 5 p.m. May 4, 2014.

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