Jan 09, 2020 10:32 PM

Governor wants to continue funding for Missouri roads, bridges

Posted Jan 09, 2020 10:32 PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Gov. Mike Parson said he wants state lawmakers to consider another year of funding for a program that helped cities and counties repair roads and bridges.

The program that Parson and lawmakers negotiated last year was a major legislative success and legislators should discuss funding it again, the governor said Tuesday at a meeting of the Missouri Asphalt and Pavement Association.

The deal on infrastructure spending included $50 million in matching state funds for cities and counties that share the cost of improving their roads and bridges. Parson said he would announce the specific dollar amount he would like funded this year during his State of the State speech next week, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, a Republican from Springfield, said Wednesday lawmakers would wait to hear the governor's speech before commenting on continuing the cost-share program.

In December, Parson’s office announced that 20 projects will receive the $50 million in matching state funds, for a total of $131 million in upgrades to roads, bridges and intersections.

Under the deal negotiated last year, the matching funds came from the state's general fund, rather than from fuel taxes.

The program was a response to voters rejecting an increase to the state’s 17-cent fuel tax in November 2018.

Although Parson supported the tax increase, he said trying for another fuel tax increase would be “foolish" right now.

Haahr also said the House Republican caucus didn't have "a lot of appetite” for a gas tax increase.

Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, has filed legislation that would increase the gas tax by 2 cents and diesel taxes 6 cents without putting a question on the ballot. Democrats in the House also have filed several bills to increase the fuel tax.