Activity at MO Capitol picks up

mo-sealWith only 5 weeks of session left to go, activities in both the House and the Senate are picking up. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee wrapped up their first round of mark-ups last week. Specific to MoDOT’s budget (HB 4) and the additional $500,000 that Rep. Stream had added to the budget for public transit, Senator Schaefer (chairman) removed the additional amount for the State Transit Program and closed the item.  What this means, is the item will go to conference where the House and Senate conferees (those appointed to serve on the conference committee) will decide whether to include or leave out the $500,000 in their final report.  We are asking that members of CMT and friends of transit reach out to Senator Schaefer (kurt.schaefer@senate.mo.gov) and Representative Stream’s office (rick.stream@house.mo.gov)  and ask that the amount be retained at conference.  Below is some draft language for your use.

One-Cent sales tax for transportation in MO
The House Transportation Committee has scheduled a hearing on SJR 16, sponsored by Senator Kehoe, on Tuesday, April 16, beginning at Noon in Hearing Room 7.  Those wishing to testify are instructed to contact Sen. Mike Kehoe’s office at 573-751-2076.

Note on additional funding for transit:

Dear XXX:

Transportation is the key to moving Missouri forward.  I know that the additional $500,000 added to the budget by Rep. Stream for the State Transit Fund was removed by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.  I hope you will seriously consider reinstating this funding in conference.

Last year Missouri transportation providers received little more than $500,000. This year the Governor recommended the same levels for public transit across the state.  Transit is the key to putting Missouri back on track!  The facts show investment in transit creates jobs.  Research has shown that every dollar invested in transit projects has a $4 return.  There are few investments at this time that can yield a 400% return.  This additional $500,000 would almost double the current budget for public transit in the state.

The current level of state support for transit is inadequate.  The State of Missouri ranks near the bottom of the list (45th) for funding of public transit.  Local funding has hit a ceiling in many areas. In order to compete for federal dollars to put our economy back on track, Missouri must make transit a priority through support and funding.  In St. Louis alone, more than 75 percent of the 223,000 daily boardings on transit are for the work commute.  Transit creates, maintains, and sustains JOBS that Missouri cannot afford to lose!

In addition, with an aging population in Missouri of residents 65 years or older, transit is the answer to meeting the needs of our seniors and disabled residents in both the rural and urban areas. Transit increases accessibility, connects them to their communities, and keeps them active and healthy. 

I strongly urge you to support this additional funding for transit and work to ensure it is included in the budget.  I also encourage you to look at ways to go beyond this funding to make public transit a priority for Missouri.

Sincerely,