Tax cuts for Missourians result in cuts to transportation program

Published: Sep. 20, 2016 at 10:09 PM CDT
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Earlier this year, the city announced the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge off of Commercial Street is closed for repairs through at least 2017.

There was a ray of hope for funding when the city applied for a piece of the $20-million dollar Missouri Moves program, a MoDOT cost-sharing program paying for various projects.

Before anyone could find out who gets a piece of the pie, the competition and program was cancelled. The Republican-controlled state legislature passed tax cuts. Such cuts may be nice for our pocketbooks, but the saving have to come from somewhere. In order to offset the money lost, Governor Nixon (who did not support the breaks) made good on his promise to make cuts, including Missouri Moves.

Sara Fields, Executive Director of Ozarks Transportation Organization, explained, "When they think about it and don't want a tax, they never really equate what does that cost me. So, that is frustrating to have a no-new-tax mentality when it wouldn't be terribly expensive."

The Jefferson Avenue bridge was one of a half dozen or so projects in our region loosing out on the possibility of being chosen for funding. Another request was for some pedestrians safety additions to the upcoming project on Grand Avenue west of Kansas Expressway. That project will entail widening the road, building a rail crossing, and a

new bridge over Jordan Creek. The city says the road construction project, set to begin soon, is already funded and was not impacted. However, the pedestrian amenities are up in the air for now.

"It works like your home budget," Fields said. "You start with income and then you decide what expenses you can afford. And when your income is always moving it is very difficult to decide do we patch the roof or do we put a whole new roof when that is what needs to be done."

Ozarks Transportation Organization just finished it's plan for priorities through 2040. It predicts our population will continue growing, and congestion on the roads will get worse.

"Our new MoDOT director likes to use the analogy of a cell phone. How much do people pay to be on the information highway compared to be on the actual highway," said Fields "What is the average cell phone bill...$80 to $150 a month? And, I think the average Missouri pays like 8 dollars a month to be on the highway system."