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  • Writer's pictureAIM Team

AIM/MTD works through MFTI to secure I-44 funding & protect I-70 funding

May 13, 2024 - Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) and the Missouri Transportation and Development Council (MTD) worked hard to increase and protect highway funding by participating with many other advocacy organizations in the Missourians for Transportation Investment (MFTI) coalition.

The MFTI coalition, led by Jeff Glenn, worked closely with legislators to secure the funding for I-70 AND I-44 in the state's FY 2025 budget.

The funds will provide resources to repair and expand I-70 to six lanes across Missouri. The project is estimated to cost $2.8 billion which will be paid for using one-time surplus funds at around $1.4 billion and bonding the remaining $1.4 billion. These amounts were first appropriated in the FY 24 budget and re-appropriated in the FY 25 budget, which also includes an additional:

  • $3.4 million for an environmental impact study related to improvements to I-70 between Blue Springs/Adams Dairy exit and Buckner Tarsney/Grain Valley exit, provided that local matching funds must be provided on a 50/50 state/local basis; and,

  • $40 million for planning, designing, and constructing of an interchange and outer services road improvements in the Interstate 70 corridor near the new American Foods Group feed processing plant in Warren County.

New this year, the FY 25 budget contains $727.5 million for all expenditures associated with the planning, designing, constructing, reconstructing, rehabilitating and repairing of I-44 from Missouri Route T to Missouri Route 68, from US Route 160 to Missouri Route 125, and from I-49 to Missouri Route 249 and to rebuild pavement and improve the I-44/Route 13 interchange and the I-44/I-49 interchange, along with other I-44 Tier 2 and Tier 3 projects. Half of this funding is up-front cash and the other half is bonding. This money comes from General Revenue.

"We thank the budget and appropriations chairmen (Sen. Lincoln Hough and Rep. Cody Smith) and the House Budget and Senate Appropriations committees for making these investments that will allow Missouri to continue to take advantage of its role as the crossroads of America," said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri and Executive Director of Missouri Transportation and Development Council. "AIM and MTD worked with many other associations through the MFTI coalition, including ACEC-MO, AGC of Missouri, Mo. Trucking Assn., Missouri Farm Bureau, Mo. Limestone Producers, Missouri Municipal League, organized labor and other groups to achieve this win. This is an example of how our collective power may be used for the good of all Missourians, and that includes all Missouri employers," he said.

In addition to securing this funding, a great deal of effort was expended to protect the current motor fuel tax from bills that would reduce or eliminate those revenues. While it is great to celebrate additional funding, it is quite another to preserve it as angry legislators sought to make MoDOT pay for decisions with which most legislators disagreed, including the legal battle over appropriation of state road funds, pay raises given to MoDOT employees, and the absurd claim made by MoDOT that the unborn child of a highway worker killed in the line of duty was an employee in an effort to defend against a wrongful death lawsuit (read more about that here).

Along with MFTI, AIM and MTD were the only statewide business lobby groups to oppose HB 2072 (Mayhew) that would have implemented a "check-off" standard deduction type of refund mechanism for the fuel tax increase we passed in SB 262 several years ago on the individual income tax return. That plan could have reduced the available funds by $480 million per year or more according to the fiscal note accompanying the bill. The bill even had the backing of the Mo. Dump Truckers Assn., but AIM/MTD and MFTI successfully worked to defeat the bill this session.

HJR 109 (Riggs) is a constitutional amendment that would have dissolved the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. Fearing this would politicize the prioritization of highway projects, AIM/MTD and MFTI testified against the bill.

"While we understand legislators' desire to exercise control over spending decisions made by MoDOT leaders, and certainly do not agree with some recent spending choices made by MoDOT, we do not believe this bill dissolving the Highway Commission and allowing the MoDOT director to be appointed

by the Governor is the best solution," said McCarty. "Governors and elected officials should not determine the priority and timing of highway projects. The highways exist for the benefit of all Missourians, not just those occupying the governor's office and a majority of legislative seats at any particular time."

Jeff Glenn of MFTI agreed.

"Missourians for Transportation Investment (MFTI) is opposed to the language included in House Joint

Resolution 109," Glenn said. "This resolution, if approved by voters, would remove language from state statute and the Missouri Constitution placing the department of transportation under the charge of the

six-member highways and transportation commission. It would instead place the department under the

charge of a director appointed by the governor by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Under

current law, commissioners are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The first bipartisan State Highway and Commission was created by the 'Centennial Road Law' in 1921.

For more than 100 years, Missouri citizens have been appointed to provide oversight to the department

of transportation. The language in this resolution would remove that oversight body from Missouri law."

For the third year in a row, the MFTI coalition was also successful in securing $100 million in additional general revenue funds for low-volume roads, as well as additional money for transit, waterways and ports, and additional funds for road/bridge projects across the state.

"MTD is the oldest statewide transportation advocacy organization and AIM is the oldest statewide business advocacy organization," said McCarty. "We have found we are most effective when working together with other entities that share common goals. This Missourians for Transportation Investment coalition is just that: a group of widely varied groups that share a common goal of improving the Missouri transportation system. We are proud we have achieved these landmark highway funding goals in just the last several years using our combined resources."

The legislative session ends at 6:00 p.m. Friday, May 17, 2024.



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