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Your Opinion: Transportation sales tax opposed

Your Opinion: Transportation sales tax opposed

July 21st, 2014 by Ed Zagorac, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Vote no on Amendment 7.

On Aug. 5, Missouri citizens will vote on Amendment 7, to increase Missouri sales tax by three-fourths cent for 10 years, a 17 percent increase - the biggest increase in state history. The money would go to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). Here are some reasons I encourage a no vote.

Road building and repairs should be paid by the people that use them - tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. The Missouri tax per gallon is the 45th lowest in the country (44 states have a higher tax rate).

Local and Interstate Common Carrier are exempt from most sales tax. If Amendment 7 passes, big trucks would pay very little or no tax.

Fifty two percent of freight does not start or get delivered in Missouri. Those trucks pass through, tear up roads but would no added tax. An increase in fuel tax would have them pay for improving I-70.

Local and regional businesses that depend on roads (like beverage, beer, cement, fuel companies) pay very little sales tax. Shouldn't they pay a fair share?

The Republican Legislature decreased income tax so Missouri business would be competitive with Kansas. If Amendment 7 passes, sales tax in most areas of Missouri will be higher than Illinois, Iowa and Kansas - sales tax in Missouri will be the seventh highest in the country; the tax rate in St. Louis would be higher than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. What happened to "being competitive?"

Funds would be spent on projects not in MoDOT's normal responsibility, like airports and sidewalks.

Revenue from Amendment 7 would add about $500 million per year and almost double MoDOT's state revenue (about $650 million now). That kind of huge increase really concerns me. Will there be some low priority projects approved just to make sure all the money gets spent?

Sales tax in some local areas with a CID would be almost 10 percent. The higher tax is unfair to businesses as it will encourage people to shop online. My guess is the added tax would cost the typical household between $125 and $300 per year ($1,250 to $3,000 over the 10 years). That is money families will not have available to spend at local businesses. For middle and lower income folks, that is a lot of money.

Vote no on Amendment 7.