Thank you to everyone who helped defeat Amendment 7!
One thing all Missourians can get behind is the ability to get from one place to another safely. Whether the commute is twenty minutes or two hours, our livelihoods depend on us being able to get our families, our employees, and our goods from one place to another. As anyone on a road trip knows, there are many routes from A to B. This August, we will be asked to vote on Amendment 7, one proposal to address the state’s transportation needs – a constitutional amendment to impose a ¾ cent sales tax to pay for highway and transportation projects, the largest tax increase in Missouri’s history.
Amendment 7 is a dead end in the journey for a more robust transportation system that can accommodate Missouri citizens, support economic growth, and attract people and business to the state while protecting our natural resources.
Our transportation choices and how we choose to pay for them impact people and our environment. By taking the form of another sales tax, Amendment 7 unfairly targets middle and low-income citizens while giving a free pass to some of the biggest and most damaging users of our roads. The legislature has already shielded the trucking industry by exempting big trucks and parts from sales tax, so while commuters and bikers will each pay the same, big trucks will be getting an entirely free ride courtesy of Missouri taxpayers. According to the Missouri Statewide Freight Study, 55% of Missouri’s truck traffic by tonnage has neither an origin nor destination in Missouri.
Missouri’s major metropolitan areas, where much of the state’s economy is located, now have some of the densest highway networks in the nation. St. Louis and Kansas City share a distinction of having the most highway lane-miles per capita of any major American city, and according to the respected Texas Transportation Institute, the rate of highway congestion in both cities is very low by national standards, has actually fallen in recent years to levels not seen since the early 1980’s. If a great highway system and low rates of congestion were the linchpins of economic growth, as tax proponents claim, our state should be exploding with economic growth. If Amendment 7 passes, the only explosive growth will be in the highway industry.
As our state highway system has steadily expanded, the number of registered vehicles in the state has fallen by 11 percent over the last 25 years. That is at least partially due to an aging population that is less reliant on auto travel. Missouri’s communities are also doing a better job providing for alternative means of transportation such as public transit, walking, and bicycling. Those of us who have worked to reduce our drive times and rely on more environmentally-friendly and economic forms of transportation are penalized by helping to subsidize for-profit industries.
As Missouri grapples with issues of air pollution and our nation works to address global warming, we must develop a plan that bridges transportation to our energy policy and public health. More roads and more cars are not the answer. Amendment 7 is the largest tax increase in Missouri’s history, but the funds it seeks to collect will harm Missourians more than it helps them. Vote no on Amendment 7.
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