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We’re not big fans of tax increases. Sometimes it seems like we’re constantly being pick-pocketed by Big Government.

We have, however, supported the successful attempt in the Missouri Legislature to incrementally increase Missouri’s gas tax. It’s one of the lowest in the nation, and you can tell by looking at our roads.

Yes, voters in recent years have shot down two attempts to raise more money for state-maintained roads and bridges.

But it’s clear the Missouri Department of Transportation doesn’t have the funding to properly maintain state roads and bridges. We’ve kicked the can down the road long enough, and now, many roads are crumbling.

So we applaud the Legislature for taking the lead and approving the bill. It would enact an additional 12.5 cents tax on motor fuels, beginning with 2.5 cents in October, and increasing by 2.5 cents each fiscal year until it reaches 12.5 cents July 1, 2025. Exemptions and refunds may be claimed by taxpayers if the taxpayer can prove their gas tax has been paid and no refund has previously been issued.

The increase in the gas tax wouldn’t bring in a windfall but would help with some well-needed road/bridge maintenance. That’s if it remains in place.

We say that because the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office already has received a referendum petition asking voters if they want to reject the measure.

The so-called “veto referendum” is similar to an initiative petition. But instead of creating a new law, it would overturn a new law.

Americans for Prosperity, the group that submitted the petition, is going through a legitimate legal process. If it succeeds (it would need some 110,000 signatures in six of the state’s eight congressional districts) Missourians would vote whether to keep or reject the Legislature’s gas tax increase.

We hope there’s not enough interest in overturning the measure (which still needs the governor’s signature to become law) for the group to get the signatures.

But if it does, then we support a statewide vote on the issue. Perhaps Missourians would reject a tax increase for roads/bridges like they have before. If they do, we’ll honor voters’ wishes. State lawmakers should too.

When the dust settles, we’ll hopefully have a government that represents the people. And we’ll get what we pay for.

News Tribune

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