Infrastructure Task Force Report on the Right Track

by Hart Nelson | Jan 03, 2018

MO fuel tax mapAfter over half a year’s work, the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force issued its final report on the state of Missouri’s transportation infrastructure.  The report lays out a thoughtful, three-part roadmap of recommendations to improve Missouri’s transportation system that recognizes the need to invest more in infrastructure to develop and maintain a system that will deliver economic growth.

As St. Louis Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan has repeatedly noted, “deferred maintenance is not a capital plan.” The Chamber has for years strongly supported policies that would increase public investment in our transportation infrastructure.  We commend the Task Force in calling for an immediate investment package of $400-500 million annually to improve our roads and bridges, including a 10-cent increase in the gasoline tax and 12-cent increase in the diesel tax.

A fuel tax is a form of user fee that captures income from both Missouri residents and non-residents who transit our state, increasing the revenue available for infrastructure funding.  The Chamber also supports the Task Force recommendation to index the fuel tax and other user and operator fees to account for inflation so that the purchasing power of these revenue streams do not diminish over time, which has contributed to our current underinvestment.

We are also encouraged by the Task Force’s forward-thinking recommendation to invest more in modes of transportation that are increasingly needed to compete for workforce and jobs. A dedicated revenue stream of $50-70 million to increase investment in mass transit, rail, airports, and river transportation will allow us to take full advantage of our geographic advantage as the hub of four interstates, six class 1 railroads, five airports, and the third largest inland port in the United States, as well as providing options for the car-free lifestyle favored by increasing numbers of St. Louisans.

At our Chamber Champions event in November, the Regional Chamber recognized Representative Kevin Corlew for his work establishing the Task Force and for his service as Chairman during the public hearing process. The report he and the dedicated public servants of the Task Force produced creates a clear vision of what we need to do.  We look forward to working with Rep. Corlew, the General Assembly and Governor Greitens to deliver the transportation infrastructure Missouri deserves.