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Missouri lawmakers fear looming infrastructure crisis

Missouri may be heading towards an infrastructure crisis.

That’s what some state lawmakers are saying if Missouri’s legislature can’t figure out a way to generate new revenue in the wake of President Donald Trump’s federal transportation plan, which looks to push much of the cost of construction onto states.

“We need to do something to address our transportation funding,” said Sen. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, who also chairs the Senate’s transportation committee. “That’s the biggest hurdle we face. The states that have the resources are going to be the ones that draw down federal dollars, while we’re going to be standing on the sidelines, unable to do nothing.”

The proposal would allocate $200 billion for federal infrastructure spending, half of which would be available to states in the form of matching grants.

But with Missouri already facing serious shortfalls in transportation funding, some lawmakers think the new proposal will only amplify the state’s larger infrastructure woes by making it more difficult to attract federal dollars for future projects.

For years, state lawmakers have been complaining about Missouri’s insufficient transportation funding.

“The Missouri Transportation and Development Council (MTD) a transportation advocacy organization associated with Associated Industries of Missouri has conducted public meetings all over the state and everyone agrees there is a problem,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Our problem is finding a funding solution voters will support,” said McCarty.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri currently requires an additional $825 million to pay for the state’s high-priority transportation needs, like updating highways and repairing roads and bridges. Out of that, at least $170 million would be needed just to keep the state’s roads as they are right now.

For many legislators, the solution to fixing the Missouri’s transportation deficit is as simple as raising the state’s gas tax. Missouri has one of the lowest fuel taxes in the country, said Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, who chairs the House’s Transportation Committee. Raising it by 10 cents, he said, would bring in an additional $430 million annually for transportation needs.

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