(KMOV.com) - Voters will be asked to decide whether to raise the state’s sales tax by three quarters of a cent to pay for transportation projects, but some say the tax would unfairly burden the poor.
“People like my mom, who's retired, are going to be paying for these new roads. Whereas the big trucks that do most of the damage and are the reason we need a lot of repairs pay nothing more,” said Glenn Koenen with the Missouri Association for Social Welfare.
Koenen says the proposed sales tax hike would have the poor paying for roads they may not use instead of more sidewalks, crosswalks, and transit projects.
If approved by voters, the sales tax increase is expected to generate approximately $5 billion over a 10 year period, with an estimated $1.48 billion going toward projects in the St. Louis region (St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, and Franklin County).
MoDOT says that while road and interstate projects dominate the current priority project list, the agency would build bike and pedestrian accommodations along with new roads.
“We're going to do a big project on I-270 from Lindbergh all the way up to 367, but that includes sidewalks that aren't there today across Interstate 70 and pedestrian bike accommodations that aren't there today,” said Greg Horn – the MoDOT District Engineer for the St. Louis region.
Horn adds that MoDOT’s draft of priority project list that available to view online also lists sidewalk and transit projects that would benefit voters without cars, but Koenen argues the projects will likely only get a small portion of the tax dollars generated.
“The more you drive, the more gasoline tax you pay. But, a sales tax gets you - not for what you’re doing related to the roads - but just for trying to get by in everyday life,” said Koenen.
MoDOT is asking for comments on its draft priority list from the public through 5 p.m. on July 3rd.
Based on comments so far, MoDOT plans to add a bike lane on the Blanchette Bridge and another Bus Rapid Transit route from Chesterfield to downtown St. Louis.
Once public comments close, the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission will be asked to approve a list a week later, on July 9th. MoDOT will then publish the final list voters can review before making a decision on whether to pay more state sales tax. The project list, however, will not spell out when the projects would be started or completed.
To view the project list for the St. Louis region and offer a comment, click here.