The St. Louis Regional Chamber and the Greater St. Charles Chamber of Commerce teamed up on a Transportation Summit on September 29. Much of the discussion throughout the event focused on funding for transportation. Senator Doug Libla, sponsor of last year’s SB540 to raise the tax on motor fuel by six cents per gallon over a period of years and adjust it annually for inflation, said a bill like this could have generated more than $80 million for transportation. Last year, 4.132 billion gallons of fuel were sold in Missouri.
“The issue currently with raising sales tax on fuel is the limitations to roads and bridges in the Missouri Constitution. In urban areas there are significant needs across the board for transportation but especially for public transit. We are hearing from rural transit providers like Oats and others that there is need there as well. The recent CMT commissioned Transit Funding Study identified the critical hole in moving transit forward in Missouri is a state funding source. In addition, the Ferguson Commission Report identified a state funding program for transit as a priority call to action. Any discussion of transportation funding in MO must look beyond just roads and bridges,” said Kim Cella, CMT Executive Director.
Other funding options for transportation including transit, ports, and bridges were presented by panelists throughout the morning. Interim East-West Gateway Council of Governments Director Jim Wild discussed case studies from other states with regards to funding for transportation. Since 2012, twenty-one states have successfully increased transportation revenues. More than half used a combination of sources, not relying on one single source for all funding. Successful increases appear to share some of the same themes:
- Strong gubernatorial support
- Effective marketing based on data-driven research substantiating the need and potential benefits
- Involve a broad coalition of interests to develop and market the revenue package
- Policies and investment principles, not project listings, seem to be most effective.