CMT provides testimony on proposed 1% sales tax for transportation

 

Senate Transportation Committee, April 16, 2014
TESTIMONY SUBMITTED:

Transportation is key to moving Missouri forward.  You will hear testimony on the proposed one percent sales and use tax for transportation in Missouri in HJR 68/SJR 48.  We commend you taking up this critical discussion on funding for Missouri’s total transportation system. 

Investing in transit in both our cities and towns will improve Missouri’s economy.   Transit creates and sustains jobs, it provides access to work, it creates economic development opportunities, it creates livable and sustainable communities, and it puts money back in Missourians pockets – Missouri needs transit and a funding source to ensure that transit stays on track. 

For every dollar that Missouri invests in public transit, there is a $4 return to the state. Since MetroLink opened, we have tracked billions in development around the light rail infrastructure. Kansas City has a streetcar system under construction and is already seeing development spring up around the infrastructure before it is complete. In this economy, there are very few investments that are demonstrating a similar return for our dollar.

The current level of state support for public transit is inadequate.  Missouri’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation identified the need for an additional $200 million annually to address Missouri’s unmet public transit funding needs.  Last year, Missouri’s transit funding was $1.06 million for 33 service providers across the state – that ranks near the bottom across the country in transit funding. In the St. Louis region, our neighbors the St. Clair County Transit District in Illinois receives more than $35 million annually from the state of Illinois to maintain their portion of the Metro system. 

This funding has been on the decline for more than a decade- In 2000, state funding was about $8.4 million. Today, state support after it is divided up does little to help Missouri gain jobs, improve access and build economic development opportunities for our residents through public transit.  Moving forward any transportation plan in Missouri must look at a total transportation package.  Equitable funding must be allocated to transit.

Whether a one percent sales and use tax or another means to fund transportation, I am writing to voice support for a multi-modal project package as a part of this proposed funding. Public transit projects and other multi-modal projects must be included in the list of project priorities.  Right now, Missouri’s gas tax only allows for funding for roads and bridges in Missouri.

Missouri needs transit and a TOTAL transportation funding package – even though only some Missourians ride it, Missouri needs transit!

I strongly urge you to only support a funding package for transportation in Missouri only if public transit and other modes of transportation are included. I also encourage you to look at ways to go beyond any one funding mechanism to make public transit a priority for Missouri for the long run.

Kimberly M. Cella
Executive Director
Citizens for Modern Transit