Missouri lawmaker pushes for an increase in state fuel tax

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A state senator’s proposal to raise Missouri’s motor fuel tax made its way through the senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee on Thursday. The bill’s sponsor believes more money is desperately needed to help repair and maintain the state’s roads and bridges.

“This is a very serious subject,” said State Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff).

SB 539 would raise the gasoline tax by 2 cents per gallon and would raise the diesel fuel tax by 6 cents a gallon. Libla said the tax could cost the average driver one dollar a month and would generate more than $100 million annually.

“There’s one department in Missouri that we are not sending record revenues to and that’s MoDOT,” he said.

Libla said MoDOT is receiving less money from the fuel tax than it once did because vehicles are more fuel-efficient. He said the fuel tax has not been raised since 1996 but the cost of repairing and maintaining roads and bridges continues to increase.

“You always pay more later if you don’t take care of your system,” he said.

House leadership has indicated there are no signs of support for a tax increase from their caucus.

Libla believes the tax could end up saving Missourians money in the long run and help them avoid costly vehicle repairs if roads are not maintained. The senator also estimates 45 percent of the tax would be paid by drivers who travel in Missouri but do not live in the state.

“We’re the crossroads of the United States so we’ve got to have our roads and bridges up to 21st century needs and we’re not,” he said.

Read Missouri Senate Bill 539.

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