Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Less Driving Dries Up Gas Tax Money For Roads

High gas prices have Missourians driving less. That means less money for the Missouri Department of Transportation to fix them.

Now the top candidates for Governor are grappling with how to find a new source of revenue to deal with the funding shortage.

You can watch my KY3 News @ 10 report HERE, which includes comments from Republican candidates Kenny Hulshof and Sarah Steelman as well as Democrat Jay Nixon.

According to MoDot statistics, for the first half of this year, the sale of fuel is down compared to last year for every month except April.

Monday at the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Congressman Hulshof left every option for dealing with the problem --- except raising the gas tax. Steelman and Nixon have also both signaled that raising the gas tax to boost revenue is unacceptable.

"We can't raise sufficient money through an increase in the state gas tax to do what needs to be done," Hulshof said.

Hulshof called the public private partnership idea (also known as some type of toll road) intriguing. "Imagine a parallel truck lane along Interstate 44 with just truck traffic that's built with private funds," Hulshof asked attendees during his hour session with the Chamber.

Jim Anderson of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce said that public private partnerships would be a big conversation going forward.

In an interview with KY3 News, Hulshof wouldn't commit or winnow options available. He said the transportation funding crisis is an issue that would require leadership from the top, but added that the solution would most likely have to be a bipartisan one.

"When this consensus is reached, as Governor, you're going to have to help make that case across the state," Hulshof said. "This is a tough one."

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