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This year, we hope lawmakers can resolve to continue to work together to better-fund our state's roads and bridges.

Missouri's motor vehicle fuel tax is 17 cents per gallon and hasn't been changed since 1996. It's one of the lowest in the nation, so it makes sense the department is struggling to maintain its current road system.

In recent years, state voters have shot down a sales tax and gas tax proposal to better-fund the department. But the more Missouri kicks the can down the road, the more our aging road system will need attention. Hopefully, the third time is the charm.

Fox 4 News in Kansas City recently reported Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Franklin County, filed Senate Bill 262 to increase the state's gas tax by 2 cents a year for five years. Other bills may offer their own funding solutions.

We agree with Schatz that raising the motor fuel tax is the fairest way to raise funds for our state's roads/bridges. When non-Missourians drive through our state, it taxes them as well when they stop to fill up their tank.

Schatz told Fox 4 his proposal wouldn't trigger the Hancock Amendment, so voter approval would not be needed. The Hancock Amendment limits state revenue increases unless approved by voters.

Increasing the motor vehicle fuel tax by 2 cents would increase MoDOT's funding by about $80 million, Schatz told the TV station.

That may seem like a good chunk of change, but it's a paltry sum when in terms of maintaining all of the state's roads and bridges. We recently reported that last year, state highway-user revenue for motor fuel, motor vehicle sales and motor vehicle and driver's licenses was about $38 million less than projected.

The department has used a combination of pay cuts and reduced hours to make ends meet, while still keeping up with road maintenance.

Maintaining our roads and bridges is a basic service of state government. But the current funding isn't sustainable. Hopefully, lawmakers will prioritize this issue during the 2021 legislative session.

News Tribune

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