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Your Opinion: Flawed state sales tax proposal

Your Opinion: Flawed state sales tax proposal

March 12th, 2013 by Robert Haslag, Centertown in News

Dear Editor:

Sen. Mike Kehoe's proposal to fund highway infrastructure with a sales tax ignores the recent judgment of voters on various sales tax proposals.

The failure of the transform sales tax and the sales tax substitute to property taxes to fund our fire department should be instructional. The use/gas tax must be the continuing primary funding source for infrastructure rather than a by-definition regressive sales tax.

Though I support the online sales tax, Missouri's multiple shortfalls in education and other areas are equally worthy of funding. Two flaws by Sen. Kehoe require consideration.

First, Missouri's gas tax was set at the current 17 cents in 1992. For 21 years we have ignored the impact of inflation on maintenance/improvement costs assuming gas guzzlers would continue funding those costs. Sen. Kehoe's claim that a 25-cent gas tax increase would be required to produce similar funding only clarifies the failure of the Legislature to address increased costs to meet those maintenance and improvement needs, a failure only accentuated over time and now reaching the crisis point.

A recent news release revealed MoDOT has only funded 40 percent of its projected retirement obligations. Obligations which could not be ignored.

Our Legislature chose to ignore that obligation creating another crisis point. The Second Injury Fund which is massively underfunded is just another example of attempting to save money while ignoring the budgetary implications. Republicans in 2006 attempting to "fix" this fund only created a much more complicated problem.

Simply, funding any obligation with a mechanism that doesn't adjust to economic and cost implications for decades is a recipe for extremely predictable shortfalls.

The appropriate funding mechanism for our infrastructure needs is a use/gas tax. The increase can be phased in over time; but the 18-wheelers pounding our roads and those of us enjoying the most benefit should pay first.

Secondly, if you gross $40,000/year or less, be prepared to be the preferred target in this Legislature for funding almost everything. Cole County's transform and fire department sales taxes were just the tip of the iceberg. This Legislature is attempting to cut individual and corporate taxes by hundreds of millions with a replacement sales tax. The highly promoted flat tax is just a glorified sales tax.

Be prepared all of you earning that $40,000 or less. You and not Rex Sinquefield will be expected to pick up the bill for everything, if this Legislature gets its way.