Dismantling MoDOT and Plundering Amendment 3
The ballot language for Missouri's 2004 Amendment 3 said "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require that all revenues from the existing motor vehicle fuel tax (less collection costs) be used only for state and local highways, roads and bridges, and also require that vehicle taxes and fees paid by highway users be used only for constructing and
maintaining the state highway system (less collection costs, refunds and highway patrol law enforcement costs), except that up to half of such vehicle taxes and fees, phased in over four years, will go into a state road bond fund to repay state highway bonds?" The Amendment was passed by voters with an overwhelming 78.9% majority. Would we have the same results if the ballot additionally said "The highways and transportation commission shall have authority to issue state road bonds for the uses set forth in this subdivision"? Those words were in the full text of the Amendment. I bet most voters didn't realize they were voting to allow more government debt when they voted in favor of Amendment 3. And if the ballot language had explained
"MoDOT will use the state road bond fund to get into several billions of dollars of new debt to launch a Five Year Construction Spree, to take the whip to their employees and overpay their contractors to highly accelerate the projects, in order to attempt to impress Missourians into providing additional funding to meet transportation needs. If additional funding does not materialize, MoDOT will cut 1200 of their 6300 employees, close 131 buildings, sell 740 pieces of equipment, reduce their number of districts from 10 to 7, and will then provide "good" service with what's left"
would Amendment 3 have passed? Because that's what's taking place. And the ones losing out are the taxpayers of Missouri and MoDOT's rank-and-file workers, while the $90,000 to $160,000 administrators who conjured up this strategy are keeping
their jobs and laughing all the way to the bank.
The latest salvo on the regular workers at MoDOT. Now that the cuts are underway, MoDOT's top dogs revealed that 270 Maintenance Supervisors will be reduced to 35. That means 235 of them will be demoted to Crew Leaders or lower, and then the domino effect will go on down from there. Many of the lowest paid "boots on the ground" workers will get pay cuts. Until today, they were led to believe their jobs were the most secure. Meanwhile, the upper echelon making $90,000 to $160,000 will still have their jobs, regardless of how useless the jobs are (for example Assistant Customer Relations Director and the newly created Assistant Chief Engineer). Taxpayers of Missouri, do you really want to allow this to happen to your neighbors who take care of your highways first-hand? It's time to get through to your government leaders to put a stop to this ill-conceived plan.
In April 2004, newspapers reported that MoDOT blamed their previous bond-selling as the reason they were dangerously low on funds, so they wisely stopped selling at $900 million of the $2.5 billion authorized, leaving them with payments of $74 million a year. Six months later a new director was hired, Amendment 3 was passed, and forgetting their recent lesson, they took off on their biggest bond-selling spree ever. Now they are paying $274 million a year, all entirely avoidable since they weren't required by Amendment 3 to sell more bonds. Now we have the Bolder Five Year Plan, which will keep the MoDOT elite and their consultants and contractors laughing all the way to the bank, courtesy of the backs of MoDOT's rank and file workers.
Something that may be of help to Mr. Bailey in his battle. MoDOT is now paying off debt at $274 million a year, which could have been avoided. Contrary to what is usually stated, Amendment 3 (passed by Mo voters in 2004) did not require the highway commission to use the tax money to sell new bonds. It's in the Mo Constitution, and says "Moneys deposited in the state road bond fund...shall only be used to fund the repayment of bonds..., except that after January 1, 2009, that portion of the moneys in the state road bond fund which...is not needed to make payments upon said bonds or to maintain an adequate reserve for making future payments upon said bonds may be appropriated to the state road fund. The highways and transportation commission shall have authority to issue state road bonds for the uses set forth in this subdivision (3)." The highway commission didn't need to incur new debt, but could have chosen to use the Amendment 3 money to simply pay off the bonds sold before 2004, and then save the remaining money and start spending it in 2009. Instead they decided to sell bonds and use the proceeds on a 5 year construction boom, and now are repaying the bonds to the tune of $274 million a year. A recent news article said, "They were taking an enormous risk," said transportation advocate Ron McKlendin. "I think they did that, thinking that by the time they had to repay the money, there would be an additional revenue stream in place." The people at the top in MoDOT led the highway commission to mortgage MoDOT's future. As usual, the rank-and-file workers will pay the price, while the ones responsible at the top will keep their jobs and huge paychecks. Someone with enough political power should right this wrong!!
I agree. MoDOT is now paying off debt at $274 million a year, which could have been avoided. Contrary to what is usually stated, Amendment 3 did not require the highway commission to use the tax money to sell new bonds. If anyone wants to check, search for Mo Constitution, and go to the part about state road bond fund. The highway commission could have chosen to use the money to simply pay off the bonds sold before 2004, and then save the remaining money and start spending it in 2009. Instead they decided to sell new bonds and use the proceeds on a 5 year construction boom, and now are repaying the bonds to the tune of $274 million a year. The people at the top in MoDOT led the highway commission to mortgage MoDOT's future. As usual, the rank-and-file workers will pay the price, while the ones responsible at the top will keep their jobs and huge paychecks. Where are our elected leaders? The silence is deafening.
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