Those in attendance at the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce “Business and Community Luncheon” Thursday learned about the impact Proposition D would mean for the state, county and local communities.
Justin Arnold is general counsel for the Missouri Chamber. He’s also a 2008 graduate of Farmington High School.
At the luncheon, Arnold highlighted what passage of Proposition D would mean for Missouri roads and bridges.
If approved, the proposition will increase the motor fuel tax by two and one half cents per gallon for four years beginning July 1, 2019.
“A lot of us around the state know we have transportation funding program,” he said. “If you drive our roads or go over our bridges, you know we have issues. But, the problem is, legislators in the state – as a whole – have been trying to figure out how we’re going to fund that.”
Arnold noted Proposition D provides the solution to that issue – and noted the assets of Missouri in drawing industry.
“Missouri is 500 miles from 43 percent of the US population,” Arnold said, “41 percent of the total US buying power; 44 percent of total US wholesale trade; 44 percent of all US manufacturing plants; and we’re within 500 miles of the seven, top 25 international cargo hubs in the US.
“That is a huge asset.”
But, Arnold said, a state is only as good as those assets if the infrastructure is maintained.
“It really means nothing if we’re not going to maintain it and we’re not going to invest in it,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce issued a press release noting their support of Proposition D – one of more than 100 in the state doing so before the Nov. 6 elections.
The initial costs to motorists with passage of the proposition would mean an increase of $1.25 per month – eventually equaling up to $123 million annually going directly to cities and counties for road and bridge improvements.
If passed, Arnold said, Farmington could receive more than $255,000 for improvements. For the county, the amount could possibly be more than $600,000 to deal with roads and bridges.
The proposition would also add more than $100 million in funding to state law enforcement.
Information provided at the luncheon noted the state has built more than 6,200 miles of roads and bridges since the last increase in motor fuel tax was approved in 1996.
Arnold said the 17-cent gas tax is worth only 7 cents of the value it had at that time.
“We have the 49th lowest gas tax in the country,” Arnold said. “The only state lower than us is Alaska. That’s an issue when you have as many miles as we do.”
Arnold highlighted the fact that Missouri is responsible for the nation’s seventh-largest state highway system and sixth-largest state bridge system – larger than any of those systems for neighboring states.
And, Arnold noted, there is currently more than $800 million in high-priority, unfunded transportation needs highlighted by the Missouri Department of Transportation in a November, 2017 “Citizen’s Guide to Transportation Funding” report.
Arnold also highlight the fact the federal government will begin “flipping the script” on how projects are funded.
When the change is made on the federal level to funding projects – whether it be 50-50 or 60-40 – states without the money ready will be passed up. If passed, the proposition will allow Missouri to receive more than $1 billion in just four years of Federal Matching Funds for roads and bridges.
Over a decade, that could mean more than $2 billion in new state funding for roads and bridges.
“We’ve got to do something, and we’ve got to do it now,” Arnold said. “Proposition D is the answer.”
Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or firstname.lastname@example.org