The state sales tax hike passed out of both the House and the Senate during the session and Governor Nixon has decided to place it on the August ballot. If approved, the tax increase is projected to generate about $534 million annually statewide for the next ten years.
St. Louis city officials have submitted to MoDOT 43 transportation related projects at a total cost of $268.5 million. Generally speaking, that`s how much money the city thinks it would get from an increased sales tax. If approved, the sales tax in the city would increase from 8.679% to 9.429%.
Mayor Francis Slay admits that is high and calls the proposed tax hike 'regressive.' But, he believes the potential benefits for the city outweigh the problems. Slay says he supports the tax increase. He says the city`s proposal focuses on what he terms a 'total transportation plan' to go beyond just projects that relate to roads and bridges.
Slay says the city`s plan is trying to go beyond just cars. In fact, the largest single priority category is projects that focus on pedestrians. The cost for those pedestrian-related projects is $111.15 million dollars- 41.1% of the city`s total plan for the potential funds. The second largest category is transit with nearly $67 million. That includes things like the St. Louis streetcar project (different from proposed loop trolley), more metro bus rapid transit lines, as well as significant improvements to major bicycle and pedestrian areas that would make those areas gateways to the Delmar and Forest park-DeBaliviere Metrolink stations.
City officials say the investment in roads and bridges is only 25% of the city`s total proposed allotment of new funds. State transportation officials plan to release an overall list of projects statewide that could be funded with the new tax dollars by June 13th. Many say a significant chunk of the money would go toward rehabbing I-70 across the state.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission will vote on a final project list on June 26th. The election is August 6th.