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If Missouri’s Fuel Tax Was The Same Percentage Of The Total It Was In 1996

Same view two years later
Gas station in Rock Hill, MO

When Missouri last increased the state fuel tax, in 1996, from 15-cents to 17-cents, the US average total price of a gallon of gasoline was roughly $1.084. The oldest records I could find for Missouri go back to 2003, but our are always less than the national average.

Assuming $1.07 per gallon in 1996, the 17-cent Missouri tax represents 15.89% of the price paid at the pump. In July 2008 Missouri gas prices peaked at $3.96, the state fuel tax representing only 4.29% of the total price paid. Recently Missouri’s average was $3.28/gallon, the fuel tax representing 5.18% of the total price per gallon.

How much would gas cost today if Missouri’s fuel tax was 15.89% of the total? To answer this we must do a series of calculations:

$3.28 – $0.17 = $3.11 (cost before Missouri tax)

1 – 0.1589 = .8411 (cost before Missouri tax = 84.11 % of total)

$3.11 / 0.8411 = $3.6975 or $3.70 (current cost if Missouri tax is 15.89% of total)

$3.70 – $3.11 = $0.59 (Missouri gas tax if 15.89% of total)

So there you have it, a gallon would cost $3.70 and the Missouri tax would be 59-cents. At 17-cents we’re only collecting 28.8% of the funding we did in 1996, relative to the total cost of a gallon of gas. To get to 59-cents we’d need to raise the tax 42-cents, or 347%! I’m not advocating we raise the state fuel tax this much, doing so would make ours the highest in the country. The purpose of this exercise is to show that relative to 1996 our revenue is about a third of what it was the last time our fuel tax was increased. A third!

In 1996 the average fuel economy of a new car was 28.5 mpg. Driven 15,000 miles per year the driver would buy 526.3 gallons of gas for a total cost, ignoring fluctuations in price, of $568.40. Of this, Missouri would’ve received $89.47. The average fuel economy for a 2013 model car is 36 mpg, a substantial improvement. Driven 15,000 miles per year the driver would buy 416.7 gallons of gas for a total cost, ignoring fluctuations in price, of $1,366.78. Of this, Missouri would’ve received $70.84. Eighteen years later the driver spends 140% more on fuel, but Missouri receives less. Of course, with inflation the cost to maintain roads & bridges is higher nearly two decades later.

As I’ve said previously, if we’d continue to raise the fuel tax 2-cents ever two years, like we did 1992-1996, we’d now be at 34-cents. Our bridges & roads would’ve been funded and maintained all along.

If our state tax was suddenly doubled from 17-cents to 34-cents the total price of a gallon would be $3.45, instead of the current $3.28. The 34-cent tax would be 9.855% of the total cost of a gallon. Not as much as in 1996, but much better than today.  Diesel fuel taxes need to be raised in a similar manner.

In the same example as above the driver of the 2013 car would still need 416.7 gallons, but now the total cost would be $1,437.62. Missouri would receive $141.68 from this motorist to maintain the bridges & highways.

The question now is how quickly can/should we raise the fuel taxes?

– Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis City & County Voters Rejected Same Four Amendments, Two Approved Statewide

A decade ago Missouri voters amended our state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, but the majority of voters in the City of St. Louis voted no. As is often the case, city voters differed from state voters. I’ve not looked at previous elections, but this year voters in St. Louis County voted against the same four amendments.  Two amendments city & county voters rejected, Amendments 1 & 5, were approved by statewide voters.

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I couldn’t locate statewide information on the number of ballots cast from each party, most likely greater than half were Republican.

The amendment that received the most votes was #7, a 3/4-cent sales tax for roads.

Transportation officials have been working for more than a decade to find more money. In 2002, voters defeated a proposed $483 million sales and fuel tax increase.

“There is no perfect solution,” said Kehoe, the sponsor. He said Amendment 7 was crafted around polling that showed a sales tax was most likely to pass at the polls. He said the fuel tax would have to be raised 20 to 25 cents per gallon to generate the money needed. (stltoday)

As you’ll see, Missouri has long resisted increases in the fuel tax. Here is the text from MoDOT’s funding history page:

Funding History

 2008

In July, the start of fiscal year 2009, Amendment 3 is fully phased-in, providing MoDOT with all of the motor vehicle sales tax revenues previously going to General Revenue.

MoDOT sold bonds for a portion of the new Interstate 64, a design-build project in the St. Louis region. For the first time, MoDOT secured bonds primarily with federal funds, rather than state funds. These bonds are called Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds.

2004
In November, Missouri voters approved Constitutional Amendment 3, which requires all revenues collected from the sale of motor vehicles come to MoDOT. Previously, half of the sales tax went to MoDOT and half to the state’s general revenue fund. It requires the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to issue bonds for building highway and bridge projects and uses these additional revenues to pay back the bonds over a period of time. The additional Amendment 3 revenues are to be phased-in over a 4 year period in 25 percent increments.

2002
Legislation is passed extending the 6-cents-per-gallon motor-fuel tax, which was due to expire in 2008. Proposition B, an omnibus transportation bill that would have increased the motor-fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon and the general sales tax by 1/2 percent, is defeated by voters by a 3-to-1 margin.

2000
Legislation was passed, effective May 30, 2000, allowing MoDOT to issue $2.25 billion in bond financing to accelerate highway improvements. Up to $250 million in bonds can be issued in 2000 and up to $2 billion from 2001 through 2006. Projects funded by the first $250 million were required to come from MoDOT’s 5-Year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. MoDOT can issue up to $500 million per year in bond financing through the year 2006. MoDOT submits a bond financing project list to the Legislature each January for approval.

1992
A 6-cent per gallon increase in the motor fuel tax is passed by the Legislature. The 6 cents is to be phased in over a 5-year period; 2 cents in 1992, 2 cents in 1994 and 2 cents in 1996.

1987
Proposition A, a constitutional amendment to increase the motor fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon, is approved by the people. It becomes effective June 1.

1984
Fees for motor vehicles and truck classes not raised in 1983 are increased.

1983
Fees for some classes of trucks are increased.

1982
Proposition B, a constitutional amendment to raise the motor fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon, is defeated by the people.

1979
Voters approve a constitutional amendment changing the CART distribution formula. Counties receive 10 instead of 5 percent, cities receive the same 15 percent and the state receives 75 instead of 80 percent. The law is effective Jan. 1, 1980. The amendment also merges the Highway Department with the Transportation Department. Also included in this legislation is a provision that one-half of the motor vehicle sales tax go to finance road and bridge construction. Of this half, 74 percent would go to the state, 15 percent to the cities and 10 percent to the counties. The remaining 1 percent goes for planning of other transportation modes.

1978
An initiative petition to increase the fuel tax 3 cents per gallon is defeated.

1972
The Legislature passes a bill increasing the gas tax from 5 cents to 7 cents per gallon.

1961
The Legislature passes a bill temporarily raising the fuel tax from 3 cents to 5 cents per gallon. The bill provides that a constitutional amendment be put before the people which would allow cities and counties to share in state motor fuel tax revenues. If the amendment is not submitted within six months, or if it is rejected, the tax would revert to 3 cents. Voters approve the amendment on March 6, 1962, and the 5-cent per gallon tax becomes permanent. This act establishes the County Aid Road Trust program.

1952
On March 24, an act is approved increasing the motor vehicle tax from 2 cents to 3 cents per gallon. The law becomes effective July 29.

1950
On April 4, Missourians again reject a referendum proposal to increase the motor vehicle tax. The proposal would have increased the tax from 2 cents to 4 cents per gallon.

1938
On Nov. 8, the people defeat by referendum election an attempt of the Legislature to raise the fuel tax from 2 cents to 3 cents per gallon. At the same time, an initiative petition proposal to amend the Constitution to fix the fuel tax at 3 cents for 10 years is also defeated.

1924
A 2-cent tax rate for motor vehicle fuel is adopted by a vote of the people under initiative petition. It is the state’s first motor fuel tax.

From the above I made this list of the fuel tax rate since 1924:

  • 1924 2-cents
  • 1952 3-cents (28 years, 100% increase)
  • 1961: 5-cents (9 years, 66% increase)
  • 1972: 7-cents (11 years, 40% increase)
  • 1987: 11-cents (15 years, 57% increase)
  • 1992: 13-cents (5 years, 18.18% increase)
  • 1994: 15-cents (2 years, 15.38% increase)
  • 1996: 17-cents (2 years, 13.33% increase)

It has now been 18+ years since the fuel tax was increased, the only period longer was the first increase after the initial tax! Had the 1990s 2-cent increase every two years continued we’d be at 34-cents — double the current rate. We’d still be lower than Illinois and many other states. Amendment 7 proponents say voters rejected a 2002 attempt to raise the fuel tax rate. From above: “Proposition B, an omnibus transportation bill that would have increased the motor-fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon and the general sales tax by 1/2 percent, is defeated by voters by a 3-to-1 margin.” They’d proposed a measly 4-cent fuel tax increase combined with a 1/2-cent general sales tax. I don’t recall how I voted a dozen years ago, but I likely voted no based on the general sales tax increase.

Here’s what should happen:

  • The Missouri legislature should pass legislation to double the fuel tax from 17-cents to 34-cents over the next 5-10 years.
  • The Missouri legislature should pass legislation make I-70 a toll road between Kanas City and St. Louis. This revenue, not the fuel tax, would be used to widen I-70.

We do need to maintain our infrastructure, we should be cautious about adding to the system if we aren’t willing to raise the fuel tax. Why build more miles of highway if we can’t maintain what we have now?

– Steve Patterson

Readers Opposed To Four Out Of Five Constitutional Amendments On Missouri’s August 5th Ballot

The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011
The floor of the Missouri House of Representatives, 2011

Tuesday August 5th Missouri voters will go to the polls for the primary election, which includes five proposed constitutional amendments. The poll last week included a question about each. The results below aren’t scientific and outstate voters frequently vote the opposite of voters from urbanized areas.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 1  Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (First Regular Session) CCS No. 2 SS HCS HJR Nos. 11 & 7

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed? The potential costs or savings to governmental entities are unknown, but likely limited unless the resolution leads to increased litigation costs and/or the loss of federal funding.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 186 [71.81%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 55 [21.24%]
  3. Undecided 15 [5.79%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 3 [1.16%]

My thoughts:

  • “Amendment 1 is a concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment.” — KC Star editorial 
  • See VoteNoOn1.com for reasons to vote against 1
  • Please vote NO!

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 5 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR No. 36

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to include a declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is an unalienable right and that the state government is obligated to uphold that right? State and local governmental entities should have no direct costs or savings from this proposal. However, the proposal’s passage will likely lead to increased litigation and criminal justice related costs. The total potential costs are unknown, but could be significant.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 172 [68.25%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 75 [29.76%]
  3. Undecided 3 [1.19%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 2 [0.79%]

My thoughts:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 7 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SS HJR No. 68

Should the Missouri Constitution be changed to enact a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent to be used solely to fund state and local highways, roads, bridges and transportation projects for ten years, with priority given to repairing unsafe roads and bridges? This change is expected to produce $480 million annually to the state’s Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund and $54 million for local governments. Increases in the gas tax will be prohibited. This revenue shall only be used for transportation purposes and cannot be diverted for other uses.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 190 [72.52%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 58 [22.14%]
  3. Undecided 11 [4.2%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 3 [1.15%]

My thoughts:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 8 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) HJR No. 48

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to create a “Veterans Lottery Ticket” and to use the revenue from the sale of these tickets for projects and services related to veterans? The annual costs or savings to state and local governmental entities is unknown, but likely minimal. If sales of a veterans lottery ticket game decrease existing lottery ticket sales, the profits of which fund education, there could be a small annual shift in funding from education to veterans’ programs.

Results:

  1. No – Against the amendment 160 [65.57%]
  2. Yes – For the amendment 47 [19.26%]
  3. Undecided 33 [13.52%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 4 [1.64%]

My thoughts:

  • The lottery was approved to provide a funding source, any dollar going to another worthy cause isn’t going to education. This won’t increase Lottery revenues, just divide the pot.
  • We need to do more for veterans, this isn’t the right way to do it.
  • Please vote NO!

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 9 Proposed by the 97th General Assembly (Second Regular Session) SCS SJR No. 27

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects? State and local governmental entities expect no significant costs or savings.

Results:

  1. Yes – For the amendment 177 [72.84%]
  2. No – Against the amendment 47 [19.34%]
  3. Undecided 17 [7%]
  4. N/A — not a Missouri resident or won’t be voting 2 [0.82%]

My thoughts:

  • The NSA isn’t going to avoid Missouri if passed
  • The ACLU of Missouri urges members to vote yes.
  • I don’t see it making much difference, vote your conscience.

I happen to agree with Ray Hartmann on these five proposed amendments, see Think Again: Indecent Proposals (St. Louis Magazine for his analysis. Please vote Tuesday August 5th!!

– Steve Patterson

A Day Trip Down South

Last month the hubby and I decided to go town to Sainte Genevive, Missouri. I’d been once or twice twenty plus years ago, he’d never been. The fastest way there is I-55 south, but we took the long way heading south from downtown St. Louis on Jefferson Ave until it merges with South Broadway into St. Louis County. On highway 231 we passed Jefferson Barrack’s Cemetery, which we’ve seen before including a memorial service a few weeks earlier.    We were close to two parks we visited last year, Cliff Cave Park and Bee Tree Park.

We got to the end of 231, turning left (south) onto state highway 61/67. Very soon Siri is telling us to turn left for Kimswick, MO. Charming, we made a note to return for lunch or dinner sometime. We continue passing through Barnhart, Pevely, Herculaneum, Festus/Crystal City, happened on a charming old roadside park, before finally arriving in Sainte Genevive. The backroad journey took at least twice as long as the interstate, but it’s so much more interesting!

More after the pics…

Kimswick, Missouri
Vernacular buildings in historic Kimswick, Missouri, click image for more infomation
Highway 61 roadside park near Bloomsdale, MO
Highway 61 roadside park near Bloomsdale, MO
Fourche a du Clos Valley as seen from the highway 61 roadside park
Fourche a du Clos Valley as seen from the highway 61 roadside park, you can hear the traffic of I-55 below but you can’t see it. Click image for more info.
Sainte Genevive
Sainte Genevive
Sainte Genevive
Sainte Genevive lost a historic building in 1934 for a service station, which later became a firehouse, and is now a cafe.
View from the Chaumette tasting room
Stunning views at Chaumette Winery
I love this house on highway 61 in St. Mary, MO
I love this house on highway 61 in St. Mary, MO

Most of the Ste Genevive wineries are a long drive from the historic town, next time we’ll take I-55 so we have more time to explore, possibly staying overnight in one of the many choices for accommodations.

We’d decided to cross the Mississippi River and return to St. Louis via Illinois, but first we stopped in St. Mary where I fell in love with the house shown above. We crossed the river into Chester, IL and came north on Route 3 without stopping.  Very different terrain 0n the Illinois side. I love seeing these historic towns on a map, a nice grid of streets.

Have a great weekend, do something memorable!

– Steve Patterson

Readers Support St. Louis’ Challenge Of Missouri’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

Last week more than two-thirds of the readers supported the decision by St. Louis officials to issue marriage licenses to four same-sex couples in an effort to challenge Missouri’s ban. While I’d like my own same-sex marriage recognized by Missouri, beyond a joint tax return, I voted for “somewhat support.”  Before I explain why, here are the results:

Q:  On June 25th the City of St. Louis defied Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage by marrying 4 couples. Oppose or support this decision?

  1. Strongly support 92 [69.7%]
  2. Strongly oppose 21 [15.91%]
  3. Somewhat support 8 [6.06%]
  4. Somewhat oppose 6 [4.55%]
  5. Neutral 4 [3.03%]
  6. Unsure/No Answer 1 [0.76%]

As I stated when I introduced this poll, this action was being discussed quietly last year. At that time Missouri’s ban wasn’t being challenged in the courts, but in February this year:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit in state court today on behalf of eight same-sex couples who are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages. The lawsuit does not seek a repeal of Missouri’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples within the state. (ACLU

That case wasn’t a direct challenge to the ban, that came in June a day before the weddings at city hall:

Court records show the Jackson County case was filed Tuesday.

ACLU attorney Tony Rothert said Friday that it wasn’t publicized because supporters didn’t want to distract from efforts in St. Louis.

St. Louis officials granted marriage licenses to four same-sex couples Wednesday, which also has prompted a legal fight. (KSDK)

In this case two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses are challenging the ban, a legal strategy successfully used in other states. Maybe both challenges will be stronger than just the one, it certainly got positive press for St. Louis. It also seems like a way to help Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter in her August 5th primary, not a worthwhile reason for getting St. Louis sued by Missouri Attorney General:

Cases currently pending in Jefferson City and Kansas City regarding the constitutionality of Missouri’s ban against same-sex marriage will be decided in the coming months. Regardless of my personal support for marriage equality, such vital questions cannot be decided by local county officials acting in contravention of state law. 

St. Louis is arguing county recorder of deeds are free to act based on their understanding of the constitution. I can’t help but wonder if conservative Brian Nieves would issue same-sex marriage licenses if he becomes the Franklin County recorder of deeds and our ban is ruled unconstitutional? Missouri has 115 recorder of deeds, do we want them each interpreting the constitution? Their job is to record and file documents.

– Steve Patterson

Poll: Oppose or Support St. Louis Marrying 4 Same-Sex Couples on June 25th

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Thursday morning I decided the poll I had planned to run this week will have to wait until next week. Late Wednesday St. Louis officials married four same-sex couples despite Missouri’s 2004 constitutional ban.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster sued the city of St. Louis on Thursday morning, seeking and getting an injunction to stop the city from issuing more same-sex marriage licenses. (stltoday)

The four marriages occurred on the same day a U.S. appeals court struct down Utah’s ban and a federal district judge tossed Indiana’s ban.

Before you scroll down to the comments to complain this has nothing to do with urban planning let me say it has everything to do with public policy, and St. Louis.

In a reader poll last year more than half indicated Missouri should wait on same-sex marriage until forced otherwise by the courts. In February the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s ban.

Ok, so the poll is in the right sidebar (desktop layout) and the comments are open.

– Steve Patterson

Readers: Same-Sex Marriage To Be Recognized In All 50 States In The Year…; I’m Now Legally Married

Over the last 10+ years public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted from majority opposed to majority support. It’s no longer if, but when. Last week’s unscientific poll looked at the timing:

Q: When do you think Same-Sex Marriage will be recognized in all 50 states?

  1. 2019-2024: 30 [26.55%]
  2. 2016: 18 [15.93%]
  3. 2025 or later: 17 [15.04%]
  4. Never: 17 [15.04%]
  5. 2017: 12 [10.62%]
  6. 2015: 10 [8.85%]
  7. 2018: 7 [6.19%]
  8. 2014: 2 [1.77%]

There’s no right or wrong here, we’re all just placing bets. However, the 15% who picked “never” will be in for a shock when the SCOTUS issues a ruling, making same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states.

The Supreme Court’s term runs from October to June. With the high likelihood that at least one circuit will decide against state limits by summer or fall, observers say, the Supreme Court should have ample time to hear a case for a decision by June 2015, though unexpected delays could push it to 2016 at the latest. (NY Times)

On June 12, 1967 the SCOTUS ruled on Loving v. Virginia, “ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.” The same will happen for same-sex marriage, though not unanimous as was Loving v. Virginia. My prediction is the SCOTUS will decide the issue in June 2016.

And on a personal note…

The morning I posted this poll, Sunday June 8, 2014, was my own same-sex marriage in East St. Louis, at the beautiful Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park.

David and I exchanging our vows on Sunday June 8th, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer.
David and I exchanging rings on Sunday June 8th, officiated by our Chris Reimer. Photo by Chris Andoe.
After Chris (center) announced we had no official photographer so we wanted everyone to take pics I got out my iPhone to take a quick selfie of us.
After Chris (center) announced we had no official photographer so we wanted everyone to take pics I got out my iPhone to take a quick selfie of us.
Dionna Raedeke singing "The Very Thought of You" during our ceremony. Photo by Chris Reimer
Dionna Raedeke singing “The Very Thought of You” during our ceremony. Photo by Chris Reimer
Our reception was brunch at Bevo Mill, Lydia S. drove us in her Tesla.
Our reception was brunch at Bevo Mill, Lydia S. drove us there in her Tesla. Photo by Alan Brunettin

We couldn’t get married in Missouri, but we did borrow the St. Louis skyline as a backdrop. We plan to honeymoon in Denver later this year (fund).

Thanks to so many people, including Bryan Werner of the Metro East Park & Recreation District.

– Steve Patterson

Poll: When Do You Think Same-Sex Marriage Will Be Recognized In All 50 States?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

In May 2004 the first same-sex marriages in the United States began in Massachusetts, the result of a court ruling. That year many states, including Missouri, passed constitutional bans against recognizing same-sex marriages. Other states approved same-sex marriage.

A year ago the Supreme Court determined part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Since then states like Illinois & Hawaii has approved same-sex marriage through their legislatures while courts have found more than a dozen state bans are unconstitutional, including Wisconsin on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the ban, making Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.

Every remaining state ban is now challenged in court.

Same-sex marriages in Illinois were to begin on June 1st but a court ruled in February there was no reason to wait. Some counties like Cook (Chicago) and St. Clair County have been issuing licenses since then. However, St. Clair County wasn’t issuing licenses to out of state couples that live in states with a ban. But on Wednesday of last week St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly determined they could issue licenses to couples from Missouri and other states, as Cook County had been doing.

The poll question this week asks when you think same-sex marriage will be recognized in all 50 states. The poll is in the right sidebar.

– Steve Patterson

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Why I’ll Be Voting Against the Sales Tax Increase in November

In November Missouri voters will be asked to raised the state sales tax by three-fouths of a cent, earmarked for transportation projects:

The tax increase would generate an estimated $534 million a year, with 90 percent of the money going to state projects and 10 percent to local projects. It would run for 10 years.

Critics say sales taxes are hardest on low-income people because a higher percentage of their income goes toward buying essential items. However, the 3 percent general fund portion of the current state sales tax of 4.225 percent is not applied to groceries or prescription drugs, and the increase would not be, either. (stltoday: Voters will decide whether to boost Missouri sales tax for highways, transportation)

Missouri’s current fuel taxes are below the national average, and the legislature squashed Gov Nixon’s veto of a state income tax cut measure.

In five annual steps beginning in 2017, the bill will cut the state’s top personal income tax rate to 5.5 percent from 6 percent and provide a new 25 percent deduction for business income reported on individual returns.

The cuts will be implemented only if state general revenue grows by at least $150 million a year compared with the high-water mark of the previous three years. (stltoday – Missouri Legislature overrides Nixon’s tax cut veto)

Back to our low fuel taxes:

Of all the states bordering Missouri, only Oklahoma has less fuel taxes…by just 3 cents.   Source: American Petroleum Institute, click image to view
Source: NAME, click image to view
Detail on Missouri’s fuel taxes   Source: American Petroleum Institute, click image to view

All over the state roads & bridges are crumbling, and I’m a huge fan of investing in infrastructure. So why am I voting no? Simple, the money has to come from somewhere, but sales taxes on necessities (groceries, clothing) is the worst way to fund transportation.   The better option is to start by increasing our very low gas & diesel tax:

The gasoline tax has a lot of virtues from an economic point of view. It matches costs and benefits, because drivers who buy the most fuel are also causing the most wear on our roads. It’s easy to collect and hard to evade.

The fuel tax tends to be unpopular with the trucking industry, which would rather have the rest of us pay for the infrastructure that it uses most intensively. And trucking lobbyists tend to have a lot of clout in state capitols, which may be why the Legislature is talking about raising the sales tax instead of the gasoline tax. (stltoday: Sales tax is wrong way to pay for Missouri roads)

What about Oklahoma, why is their gas tax is 3 cents less per gallon? We should do what they do to keep from raising our fuel taxes, you might say. Fine by me!

Oklahoma has 10 turnpikes, more than 600 miles of pavement, making the state second in the nation for miles of toll roads. (Oklahoma Doesn’t Make Profit On Turnpikes; Who Does?)

Tolls, like fuel taxes, makes those who use the infrastructure pay for the infrastructure. I’ve paid more to Oklahoma  in tolls than in fuel taxes the last 23+ years of driving back to visit family.

A common misconception is more fuel efficient cars, hybrids, & electric vehicles have significantly reduced revenues collected from fuel taxes. It’s true, cars are more efficient:

Cars and light trucks sold in the United States hit a new record for fuel efficiency last year — 23.6 miles per gallon, on average — in response to still-high oil prices and strict new fuel-economy standards.

That’s a big step up from the 22.4 miles per gallon average for new vehicles in 2011. And overall fuel economy is expected to increase to 24 miles per gallon in 2013, another record. (Washington Post: Cars in the U.S. are more fuel-efficient than ever. Here’s how it happened.)

But that’s not why fuel taxes don’t cover needed work, just look at the federal highway trust fund:

The Fund is paid for by the federal gas tax. The gas tax has not been raised in over twenty years. Many items have doubled or tripled their cost since 1993. For example, a new car cost $12,750 in 1993, yet in 2013 a new car cost $31,252. The easiest explanation is that we are trying to build a 2014 infrastructure system with 1993 dollars. This is obviously an untenable formula. (Highway Trust Fund 101: What You Need to Know

Yes, the cost to build & maintain our infrastructure have been increasing while the Missouri & federal rate has remained flat.  For years inflation was masked because gasoline sales and total vehicle miles driven increased year over year, the funds grew too.

Source: NAME, click image to view
Graph shows total vehicle miles driven increased until the last recession. Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve, click image to view
Source: NAME, click image to view
Total gallons of gas sold dropped off just as miles driven have. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, click image to view

Rising costs and a slight drop in gallons of fuel purchased doesn’t mean we should now start taxing every purchase to maintain roads & bridges. But yes, the number of hybrids and others has increased, but the percentage is small relative to the big picture:

The number of alternative-energy vehicles on the road grew to almost 3.1 million in 2013, compared with 2.5 million in 2012, according to the study. In 2013, nearly 72,000 vehicles were pure electrics and three million were hybrids, compared with 21,000 pure electrics and 2.5 million hybrids in 2012.

Data for the analysis comes from Experian Automotive’s database, which includes information on nearly 700 million vehicles in operation. (New York Times - Experian Study Highlights Differences Between Hybrid and E.V. Owners). I encourage you to contact your elected officials in Jefferson City and Washington D.C to tell them to increase  the fuel taxes, not the sales taxes on goods. In November, please vote no on this sales take hike.

– Steve Patterson

Missouri’s August Primary

Two days ago many voters in the region went to the polls to vote on local measures, such as bond issues. Those of us in the City of St. Louis didn’t have an election, our next time voting will be the Missouri primary on Tuesday August 5, 2014. However, voters in the 13th ward will vote at a special election on April 29th.  Fred Wessels resigned as alderman on December 31st to become the head of the Community Development Administration (CDA):

The CDA, among other things, administers federal funds for housing, community and economic development programs. It’s also responsible for administering the city’s share of federal community development block grants.

Wessels will replace Jill Claybour, who is retiring. (Beacon)

The 13th ward candidates are Beth Murphy (D) and Conan Predergast (R), see official list here.  Phyllis Young of the 7th ward is now the most senior alderman, her and Wessels were both sworn into office in April 1985.

Click image for information on becoming a poll worker.
Click image for information on becoming a poll worker.

IMPORTANT PRIMARY DATES:

  • Absentee balloting begins: Tuesday June 24, 2014
  • Last Day to Register to Vote: Wednesday July 9, 2014
  • Primary Election Day:  Tuesday August 5, 2014

In the city the primary will include three county-level offices: Collector of Revenue, License Collector, and Recorder of Deeds. Let’s take a look at the candidates seeking the nomination of their party:

Collector of Revenue

  • Democratic
    • Gregory F.X. Daly (Incumbent)
    • John P. Parhomski
  • Republican
    • Dylan M. Farrell
  • Green
    • None

License Collector

  • Democratic
    • Mavis “Tesssa” Thompson (Incumbent)
    • Jeffrey L. Boyd
    • Francis Horton
  • Republican
    • None
  • Green
    • Don DeVivo

Recorder of Deeds

  • Democratic
    • Jimmie Matthews
    • Sharon Quigley Carpenter (Incumbent)
    • Edward McFowland
  • Republican
    • Erik Shequist
  • Green
    • None

What do we know from this list? All three incumbents are Democrats, no surprise. What’s surprising and refreshing is all three are being challenged in the primary.  We also know the two Republicans, and the one Green, will represent their respective parties in the November general election.

The most interesting of the races is the Democratic primary for License Collector. Thompson was appointed by Gov. Nixon last year to replace Michael McMillan, who became President of the Urban League of St. Louis.  Alderman Jeffrey Boyd ran unsuccessfully for Treasurer in 2012, coming in 3rd in the 4-way Democratic primary, just after Fred Wessels.

– Steve Patterson

WEEKLY POLL (new poll 8am Sundays)

PLEASE DON'T PEAK AT THE RESULTS BEFORE MAKING YOUR CHOICES \ } PLEASE MAKE YOUR SELECTION FIRST, THE TOP FOUR ANSWERS ARE CORRECT.

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