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Missourians to vote on transporation initiative

September 14, 2004
By: Jade Mingus
State Capital Bureau


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An upcoming amendment could give the Missouri Department of Transportation more money, without raising taxes.

Jade Mingus has more from Jefferson City.

The Department of Transportation does not receive all available revenue from gasoline and car taxes, because some money is diverted to non-highway expenses.

Missouri transportation spokesperson, Sally Oxenhandler, says Amendment three will end that diversion of highway funds.

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"For instance, the Department of Revenue now gets a portion of those highway user fees, and that money would be redirected from those agencies and spent on highway and bridge projects."

But opponents of Amendment three say it will make an already tight budget more strained.

St. Louis County Senator Wayne Goode has chaired both the House and Senate appropriations commitees. He says the initiative is selfish because it takes money away from other government programs.

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"What they're doing with this opposition is taking money out of general revenue fund and not replacing it, and that money is needed for the purpose I stated earlier. For education and healthcare and others."

Goode argues that if the amendment passes the general assembly will have to make some tough budget decisions.

But Missouri Chamber of Commerce President Dan Mehan says amendment three is important for the entire state because it stops the diversion of highway funds.

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"Currently about 300 million dollars a year is diverted for other uses whether it's the Department of Revenue, Office of Administration, other Departments of State. And this corrects a large portion of that, about 165 million of that."

Mehan says the initiative is not a tax increase but a redirection of existing revenues.

But Goode is not convinced, he says Amendment three is backed by people with direct interest in building roads.

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"Not a good approach it's a, I'd go so far to say it's a selfish approach put forward and paid for by those who have a very big financial interest in building highways."

Goode agrees Missouri needs more money for highways.

But he says a tax increase would be better than taking money from other government programs.

It will take four years for the amendment to go into effect.

From the state capital I'm Jade Mingus.

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The Missouri Department of Transportation may get more money from a November initiative.

But the ranking Democrat from St. Louis County says it will hurt Missouri's education and healthcare departments.

Jade Mingus has more from Jefferson City.

Supporters argue that money from the fuel tax and motor vehicle license fee is diverted to non-highway expenses.

Missouri Transportation spokesperson, Sally Oxenhandler, says if the amendment passes the change will not be instant.

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"The way the initiative petition is written it's phased in over time. It doesn't happen all in one year, it's phased in over a four year period."

Opponents to the November initiative say budget concerns outweigh Missouri road improvements.

St. Louis County Senator Wayne Goode is a leading opponent to the initiative.

He says it will take money from education and healthcare.

From the state capital, I'm Jade Mingus.

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A St. Louis County Senator is leading the opposition against amendment three.

He says the amendment will strain Missouri's general revenue budget.

Jade Mingus has more from the state Capital.

Supporters say Amendment three will increase funding for the Missouri Transportation Department.

But Senator Wayne Goode who has chaired both the house and senate appropriations committees argues the increase hurts other government programs.

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"What they are doing with this opposition is taking money out of general revenue fund and not replacing it, and that money is needed for the purpose I stated earlier. For education and healthcare and others."

Amendment three will be on the November ballot and will take effect over the next four years.

From the state Capital, I'm Jade Mingus.

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Supporters of Amendment three say it will give more money to the Missouri Department of Transporation.

A Saint Louis County Senator argues it will hurt other government programs.

Jade Mingus has more from Jefferson City.

The department of transporation does not get all the available money from gas and car taxes, because revenue is spread out between other government departments.

The transportation department spokesperson, Sally Oxenhandler, says Amendment three will end this diversion of funds.

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"For instance, the Department of Revenue now gets a portion of those highway user fees, and that money would be redirected from those agencies and spent on highway and bridge projects."

Opponents of Amendment three argue it will strain the general assembly budget.

St. Louis County Senator Wayne Goode says the initiative will take money away from other government programs.

From the state Capital, I'm Jade Mingus.