First MO fuel tax increase since ’96 drops Friday, but refunds available

      On Friday, October 1, Missouri’s gas tax will increase for the first time in 25 years, but Missourians who don’t want to pay the increase have an option.

Representative Becky Ruth (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      The tax will increase by 2.5 cents October first, with more incremental increases every July 1 until it reaches a 12.5 total increase in 2025.  The Department of Transportation estimates the increase, when fully implemented, will generate another $460-million annually for the state’s roads and bridges.

      Those who don’t want to pay the increase will be able to apply for a refund.  The Department of Revenue has prepared a draft of the form that would be used, which can be viewed here.  A final version is expected to be available, either digitally or by paper copy, by the time applications can be accepted between July 1 and September 30 of next year. 

      Fuel purchased in Missouri for vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds is eligible for a refund.  House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Becky Ruth (R-Festus) said Missourians who want a refund will, “need to save [fuel] receipts in case they are audited, and there is a form that the Department of Revenue is providing for them to fill out,” said Ruth. 

      Ruth said she’s not concerned that letting people get back some of their tax dollars will hurt the overall goal, that of giving the Department of Transportation more funding to maintain the state’s roads and bridges.

      “I think this is a very fair provision.  If people are happy with the job that’s being one and they want to continue to invest in the roads and bridges, then they will leave their money there.  If they feel like they need to have that money back; they don’t think it’s fair, they need it for whatever reason, or maybe they’re just not happy with how the money is being spent or they don’t feel like MODOT’s doing a good job, they can request a refund of that new tax.”

      Ruth said the initial increase, which begins October 1, has been estimated at about $1 a month for the average Missouri driver. 

      “Once it’s fully phased in [the increase will be] right around $60 [per year].  Again, it depends upon how much you travel, how much gasoline you use,” said Ruth.

      Ruth said the Department has been running about $800-million behind what it needs for road work, per year.  The increase will cover a significant portion of that gap, and will also put Missouri in position to draw federal dollars from an anticipated infrastructure bill.

      “That federal infrastructure bill is an 80/20 match.  Otherwise we would not be in a position to have the match money to pull down those federal dollars … we’re talking about billions.  Roughly, Missouri is looking around $7-billion.  If we did not have this money to pull down that match, that money would end up going to other states.”

      Ruth said she was grateful for the bipartisan support this proposal received.  She thinks that is due, in part, to the refund provision, and to lawmakers recognizing a need for additional money for transportation.

      “I just look forward to seeing Missouri rise in terms of where we’re at in road funding:  having safer roads to travel on, roads that are in better condition.  Our investment in our infrastructure also helps to drive the economy and bring in new business,” said Ruth.

      The gas tax increase became law when Governor Mike Parson (R) signed Senate Bill 262, which passed out the House with a final vote of 104-52.

Texting while driving ban for all drivers proposed for 2020 legislative session

The House of Representatives will consider extending Missouri’s ban on texting while driving to drivers of all ages in the legislative session that begins January 8.

Representative David Evans (photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Missouri law only bans texting while driving for those 21 and younger.  House Bill 1290 would extend that ban to all drivers.  It would also allow local jurisdictions to enact their own laws and ordinances on the use of hand-held electronic communications devices.

Representative David Evans (R-West Plains) filed HB 1290.  He said it simply doesn’t make sense to ban only younger drivers from texting while driving.

“Being one of the older people with grandchildren I can honestly say my grandkids learned to use computers and start texting and typing as young as 2 or 3 whereas I’m still struggling to do so, and it would distract me far more to text and drive than I’m sure it would most 16, 17, 18 year olds today,” said Evans.

Evans said he wanted to propose what would be the “least intrusive” expansion of the texting while driving law.  After reviewing past legislation on the matter he chose to offer the same language as 2019’s House Bill 896, filed by Representative Rory Rowland (D-Independence).

“It’s really a safety issue.  It’s important to me as a parent, it’s important to me as a grandfather.  As a former judge, you see so many of these cases these days of folks that are distracted by driving.  One of the most time-consuming and distracting things you can do is look away and type,” said Evans.  “It’s an activity we need to regulate in some fashion.  I’m not going overboard here but simply saying hey, that extreme activity of texting and driving is something you’ve got to be more careful about and [the bill would] save lives and save accidents.”

The Department of Transportation backs extending the texting while driving ban to all drivers.  Nicole Hood, State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer, said that would make roads safer for drivers and MoDOT workers.  The Department reports that since 2014, cell phone-related crashes in Missouri have increased by 31-percent, reaching nearly 2,500 last year.

“We continue to have record numbers of traffic fatalities.  For the past three years Missouri alone has had over 900 people that have been killed in traffic crashes and every one of those deaths affects a family and a community,” said Hood.  “Distracted driving, it can be a leading cause of some of these crashes, and using those cell phones and texting can definitely be a contributing factor.”

Similar legislation has received little or no attention from the legislature in recent years.  Evans said he will talk to House leaders soon in hopes of getting this bill some traction.

“It will save lives and it will save accidents, so I think it’s a good thing and I think leadership will see that,” Evans said.

Violations of Missouri’s texting while driving ban result in two-point violations against a driver’s license.  Accumulation of points can result in a license being suspended or revoked.

Effort lead by family of MODOT worker killed by driver results in new license revocation law

The family of a highway worker killed at a job site hopes a law signed this month will keep others from facing the same tragedy.

Lyndon Ebker was killed in an April, 2016 crash while he was working in a MODOT work zone near New Haven. The driver who hit him was allowed to continue driving for more than two and a half years, and Ebker’s family and MODOT workers said that was wrong.

The driver who struck and killed Lyndon Ebker in a work zone near New Haven more than three years ago had impaired vision, but was allowed to keep driving until this past November when his license was revoked for life.  Ebker’s family and the Department of Transportation said that driver put others in danger and he should’ve been forced off the roads more quickly.

House Bill 499 would require the Department of Revenue’s Director to revoke a driver’s license if a law enforcement officer reports that the driver’s negligence contributed to a worker or emergency responder being hit in a work or emergency zone.

Ebker’s daughter, Nicole Herbel, pushed for the legislation, which was signed into law this month by Governor Mike Parson (R).

“I just want people to think about it when they’re seeing the cones or the orange flags, even the trucks, I want this law to make them stop and think, ‘That gentleman was hit and killed because somebody didn’t slow down,’ or even just to remember that they’re humans that are standing there,” said Herbel.  “Awareness really is the biggest thing for us.”

The accident that killed Ebker happened in Representative Aaron Grieshemer’s (R-Washington) district, and he sponsored HB 499.  He said he was concerned with how long the man who killed Ebker was allowed to keep driving while his case moved through the courts.

“I have heard stories from some MODOT employees that worked with Mr. Ebker that feared for their lives because knowing that this gentleman was out there driving still,” said Griesheimer.  “I’d heard another report that he had almost hit somebody else in the City of Hermann, so it was definitely a safety factor involved in this.”

The legislation was a top priority for the Department of Transportation this year, so much so that MODOT Director Patrick McKenna testified for it in a House committee.  He told lawmakers it was needed to help protect the agency’s workers.

“We try to keep our roads primarily open while we’re working on them.  It’s a considerable challenge, but we have to do it safely so we can honestly look at our employees and say the way that we’re structured will guarantee you the ability to go home every single day after shift to your family and friends, every time throughout your entire career,” McKenna told House Communications.  “We have a memorial here just about 100 yards from where I’m sitting right now with the names of not only Lyndon Ebker, but 133 other MODOT employees that through our history have lost their lives providing public service on behalf of Missouri.”

Representative Aaron Griesheimer (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

McKenna thanked all those involved in getting HB 499 through the legislative process and into law, including Rep. Griesheimer, Governor Parson, the Ebker family, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, and Justin Alferman, Parson’s legislative director who also filed the legislation when he was a state representative.

Herbel said though her family suffered a tremendous loss, they didn’t back HB 499 out of seeking revenge.  She said they were doing what her father would’ve done.

“If he saw someone doing something that was going to hurt themselves or hurt other people he did not hesitate to speak up, and that’s why this law is so fitting because if he had lived through this accident he would’ve done something to keep people safe.  He would not have just taken the injury and went on.  He would’ve turned around and fought for something to change.”

If a driver’s license is revoked under the new law, the license holder can seek its reinstatement by taking and passing the written and driving portions of the driver’s test, or petitioning for a hearing before a court local to the work zone where the accident occurred.

HB 499’s language is also included in Senate Bill 89, which has also been signed by the governor.  Both bills effect August 28.

Another provision in HB 499 increases the fees licenses offices can charge for state services, such as issuing driver’s licenses and license plates.

Earlier stories:

House proposes tougher license revocation laws for those who hit workers, emergency responders

Family of MODOT worker killed in work zone asks lawmakers to toughen license revocation law

House approves budget plan maintaining $100-million boost to transportation

The Missouri House has proposed a $29.2-billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  Among other things it maintains Appropriations Committee Chairman Cody Smith’s (R-Carthage) plan to apply $100-million of General Revenue to road and bridge projects.  That would be in addition to the money in the state’s Road and Bridge Fund, which is dedicated to transportation.

House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

If that proposal becomes law it would be the first time GR dollars have been used for transportation infrastructure.  Smith said the state’s road funding has been falling behind for years, and with other proposals to support it having fallen short – including a gas tax increase that was rejected by voters in November – it’s time to consider unprecedented sources.

He also said his plan is a better option than what Governor Mike Parson (R) proposed, to use bonds to support $350-million for bridge projects, which take years to pay off.

“Going further into debt comes at a high cost.  We already spend, on average, about 24-percent of the road fund on debt service as it is,” said Smith.  “This plan, paying as we go, could save us as much as $100-million over the course of 15 years, and it’s really that simple.”

Democrats say this approach creates uncertainty for the Department of Transportation, which wouldn’t know year-to-year how much money the legislature might decide to give it.

Kansas City representative Greg Razer (D) said the plan also would set a precedent that transportation would compete with other state priorities that are already funded with GR dollars, including education and medical care.

“The day will come when we have our director of transportation, people with disabilities, the presidents and chancellors of our universities all coming and trying to fight over the same pot of money,” said Razer.

Representative Greg Razer, D-Kansas City (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Razer and other Democrats said the state should not get away from using only the Road and Bridge Fund to support transportation.

“It’s something that has served us well for nearly a century,” said Razer.

Democrats say $100-million won’t go very far toward meeting the transportation infrastructure needs across the state.  Festus Republican Becky Ruth said a lot of options that have been considered might be short-term solutions.  She said this one would be a good start.

“Right now we have to do something, and that’s what the people of Missouri [have] asked us to do,” said Ruth.

“When our school busses are travelling on roads and crossing bridges and many of those bridges are in poor condition, I want you to stop and think about those children sitting on that school bus.  I want you to stop and think about the families driving in their car down the road.  I want you to stop and think about all of the people that use our highways day in and day out to get to their destinations – to go to work, to return from work – and they want to be able to do that safely,” said Ruth.

Smith said it is his intention to propose the use of General Revenue in future budget years to cover the projects that would’ve been paid for in the governor’s plan.  Each year, then, that would have to be decided upon by the General Assembly.

The 13 budget bills that make up the House’s spending plan now go to the State Senate, which will propose changes to it.  Then the two chambers will attempt to reach a compromise on a budget to be sent to the governor before the constitutional deadline of May 10.

House proposes tougher license revocation laws for those who hit workers, emergency responders

The Missouri House has proposed that the Department of Revenue Director be given authority to revoke the license of a driver who hits a road or utility worker in a highway work zone or an emergency responder at the scene of an emergency.

Lyndon Ebker

House Bill 499 was written in response to the death of a highway worker nearly three years ago.  The man who struck and killed Lyndon Ebker in a work zone near New Haven was later revealed to suffer from macular degeneration that impaired his eyesight, but he was still driving more than two years later.

HB 499 was sent from the full chamber back to a House Rules committee for more work after some legislators raised concerns that earlier versions of it would deny a person of due process.  Bill sponsor Aaron Griesheimer (R-Washington) said the changes address that.

“There were some concerns expressed to me that, well what if there was a mechanical issue on your vehicle and you struck a highway worker, and so we added some language in there that states whether the investigator had probable cause to believe the person’s negligent acts or omissions contributed to his or her vehicle striking that individual,” said Griesheimer.

Ebker’s family and the Department of Transportation pushed for the legislation.  Lawmakers heard that the workers who’d been on Ebker’s crew felt unsafe because they knew the man who’d killed him was still on the road.

Kansas City representative Greg Razer (D) was one of those who listened to their testimony in a committee hearing.

“That was a tough day to sit through … hearing the pain of those families, and these are men and women who are working very hard for our state in rain, sleet, snow, blazing hot sun, and I hope we can go forward with this and also let Missourians know that when you get to a work zone you need to slow down.  You need to pay attention and be extra cautious,” said Razer.

Odessa Republican Glen Kolkmeyer also sits on the Transportation Committee.  He said he’s glad to see this proposal advancing.

“I had a firefighter killed in the line of duty by a gentleman who came over a hill that should have never been on the road,” said Kolkmeyer.  “We’re getting to name that road after that firefighter that was killed.”

Representative Aaron Griesheimer (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Under the bill an officer investigating a work zone or emergency zone accident in which a worker or emergency responder was hit can file a report to the Department.  The Director will revoke a driver’s license if he finds, based on that report, that the driver was at fault.

The driver then will have 15 days to prove competency by retaking and passing the driver’s test or by appealing to courts local to where the accident happened.  If the court finds the driver was involved in hitting a worker; the work or emergency zone was properly marked; and the investigating officer found probable cause that the driver was at fault, the license revocation would stand.

Representative Rudy Veit (R-Wardsville) was one of those who raised concerns about due process with the earlier bill language.  He said that 15 day provision answers his concerns.  He now supports the bill.

“These workers are in a fearful position.  That’s every day cars are whipping by them, and there’s two types of people that will hit them.  One is those who aren’t competent to be driving.  This will quickly remove them from the road.  The second one is those who are driving reckless, and keep in mind those are the people we are putting more fear in,” said Veit.  “They know if they do something they’re going to have swift, fast consequences, and I think this is another tool in the chest we need to protect the workers and to honor the workers who do this dangerous work and let us keep our roads open.”

In November the driver who struck Lyndon Ebker pled guilty to two charges and his driving privilege was revoked for life.

The House voted 149-5 to send the bill to the Senate.

Earlier story:  Family of MoDOT worker killed in work zone asks lawmakers to toughen license revocation law

House Budget head unveils road and bridge funding proposal as part of F.Y. ’20 budget

The Missouri House’s Budget Committee Chairman has unveiled his plan for paying for road and bridge work in the state, in place of the plan proposed by Governor Mike Parson (R) in January.

House Budget Committee Chairman Kip Kendrick (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Cody Smith’s (R-Carthage) plan is to use a $100-million from the state’s General Revenue Fund to support the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which is the Department of Transportation’s plan for road and bridge improvements for the coming years.

Parson’s plan called for using $351-million in bonds to replace or repair 250 bridges throughout Missouri.  The bonding would have been paid back with about $30-million from the state’s General Revenue fund for 15 years.

Smith said it is important to focus on creating a plan that would funds transportation infrastructure but not put the state further into debt.

“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars in debt service every year … when we have an opportunity to make a similar impact on the bridges that have been identified as in need of repair over the course of four years and thereby save the state $100-million over 15 years I think we out to try to take that opportunity,” said Smith.

The Department has paid more than $700-million in debt payments in the last two years, and its average payment is $313-million a year.

Smith proposes spending $100-million in general revenue on roads and bridges in the next four years’ budgets or more.  That would be subject to the appropriation process in each of those years.  Smith potentially will be the House budget chairman throughout that time, and therefore would be in a position help make that happen.

State budget experts say General Revenue has never been used to pay for transportation infrastructure.  That is usually done with funds earmarked for that purpose.  Smith said it’s time to consider a fundamental change.

“The budget is a reflection of the state’s priorities and amongst those priorities should first be the core functions of government and I’d certainly put transportation infrastructure amongst the core functions of government,” said Smith.

Representative Kip Kendrick is the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Columbia representative Kip Kendrick is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.  He called Smith’s proposal bold and a part of a larger discussion about how Missouri’s transportation infrastructure should be paid for, but funding it with general revenue would pit it against other priorities supported by that fund, like K-12 and higher education.

“A hundred million dollars in general revenue, I believe, sets a potentially bad precedent.  I don’t know how you ever unwind that,” said Kendrick.  “I think we need to be looking at long-term solutions and dedicated funding streams to address our infrastructure problems at the state level.”

Smith said weighing the various priorities of the state against one another is the job of the legislature.

“That is exactly what we’re doing here.  We’re talking about how we prioritize transportation versus education versus public safety – that is the process that the General Assembly goes through and I think that’s a natural and appropriate process,” said Smith.

The Missouri Department of Transportation says it is about $8-billion short of being able to fund its transportation needs in the next decade.

Missouri voters in November rejected a 10-cents-per-gallon tax increase to pay for road and bridge work.

Smith’s plan is part of his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  He unveiled that plan Wednesday.  Over the coming weeks the House Budget Committee will propose changes to that plan, then send it to the full House for debate during the week of March 25-29.  Before the state budget is finalized it must be approved by both the House and the Senate, then the governor could approve, reject, or delay funding from it.

Family of MoDOT worker killed in work zone asks lawmakers to toughen license revocation law

More than two-and-a-half years after Lyndon Ebker was struck and killed while working on a MoDOT Road Crew, the man that struck him was still driving.  Ebker’s family, the Department of Transportation, and Representative Aaron Griesheimer (R-Washington) say that’s not right, and they’re asking the legislature to change state law because of it.

MoDOT employee Lyndon Ebker of New Haven was killed in an April 2016 accident in a work zone outside his hometown. His death prompted the filing of House Bill 499. (photo courtesy of the Ebker family)

“When I say we lost a good man, I mean we lost a good man,” Ebker’s daughter, Nicole Herbel, told the House Transportation Committee.  “A man who cared for others and always put others in front of himself.  If you would’ve been able to ask him why he would’ve told you just what he told me:  ‘I do what needs to be done,’ Let’s do what needs to be done and fix this process together.”

The man who struck Ebker was later revealed to have macular degeneration.  Even so, neither his physician, family, nor law enforcement investigating the crash reported him as an unsafe driver, to require that he take driver testing.

The committee is considering House Bill 499, which would allow a driver’s license to be revoked if that driver hits a highway worker or an emergency responder while in a properly marked work or emergency zone.  The license would be revoked upon notification by law enforcement to the Department of Revenue.

“The purpose of this bill is to, obviously, protect our highway workers,” said Griesheimer, the bill’s sponsor.  “We have a need out there.”

Backers say the bill would make sure whether drivers who have been involved in work zone accidents are competent to be on the roads.  A driver whose license has been revoked could seek reinstatement by taking and passing the written and driving parts of the driver’s license exam, or petitioning for a court hearing.

Since 2000, work zone incidents have claimed the lives of 13 employees of Director Patrick McKenna’s Department of Transportation.  He told the committee, “Justice was not operating quickly,” in the case that left Ebker dead.

Lyndon Ebker’s daughter, Nicole Herdell, recounted for lawmakers the work zone incident that killed her father in 2016 and asked them to pass House Bill 499. (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“This is a substantial problem for us.  In these cases – we are talking about at-fault crashes, not accidents.  That is a distinction, and that is a distinction that there is due process to determine.  We’re not looking to remove anybody’s rights.  We’re simply trying to be able to operate and maintain the system with safety,” said McKenna.

State Maintenance Engineer Becky Almeroth told the committee other workers in the region where Ebker was killed felt unsafe after the accident because the driver who hit him was still on the road.

“For the last 2.5 years those coworkers in this very tight-knit community had to live with the fact that they would get texts on an almost weekly basis, several times a week, letting them know that this driver was out driving at the time.  So their minds at the time, they’re not going to put a work zone in that area because they know the routes that he usually takes.  There are many times that these workers saw him in the convenience store, saw him in the grocery store, and they know this is somebody that could potentially put others in harm’s way,” said Almeroth.

Griesheimer said he is considering amending the bill to say that drivers could also have their licenses revoked for hitting utility workers in work zones.  One lawmaker suggested extending the language to cover hitting anyone in a work zone.

The committee has not yet voted on his bill.

Task Force begins work toward finding a solution for Missouri transportation funding

A legislature-created task force has held its first hearing toward the goal of finding a long-term solution for Missouri’s need for transportation funding.

Representative Kevin Corlew (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force was created by the adoption of HCR 47, offered by Kansas City Republican Kevin Corlew.  He chairs the Task Force.

“Our roads are crumbling and our constituents are grumbling.  There seems to be a consensus that we need to do something but as of yet there’s been no consensus about what needs to be done,” said Corlew.  “That’s what this task force is about – determining if we have a need and then finding a solution with broad-based support.”

The task force heard a presentation from the Director of the Department of Transportation Patrick McKenna in which he outlined the funding issue facing the state’s transportation system.

“Nearly $55-billion of taxpayer dollars have gone into developing the really extraordinary system that we benefit from today – 34-thousand miles of road and 10,400 bridges that the state owns.  It’s the seventh largest system in the nation and it’s funded at 47th in the nation in terms of revenue per mile,” said McKenna.

McKenna also reiterated what many lawmakers already know about Missouri’s bridges – many are in need of repair.  He said about 1,300 have restrictions on how much weight can be on them because of their condition.  866 more bridges are considered to be in “poor condition.”

“We also have 207 ‘major bridges’ in this state … we define those as greater than 1,000 feet in length … In the next 10-years, with our asset management plan, we know we have to replace or repair 62 of those by age and condition, and we’re funded at about 1.2 a year,” said McKenna.

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Task force members and those who testified, not including McKenna, shared the opinions that have framed the transportation funding debate in recent years.  Some spoke for or against increasing Missouri’s motor fuel taxes.  Others spoke about other possible solutions such as different ways of utilizing the tax money the Transportation Department already receives.  Still others commented on the possibility of public-private partnerships and tolling.

Ron Leone, the executive director for the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, told the committee he didn’t expect it to come up with any new possible solutions beyond those that have been debated before.

“I kinda have a feeling that even though you’re going to be going down this path for the next six, seven months, you’re ultimately going to have just a certain number of tools in your toolbox.  I don’t think you’re going to uncover any silver bullets that no one has thought of to date,” said Leone.

Corlew is more optimistic that the task force could come up with some new possible approaches or combinations of approaches

“I think that every day as technology increases and as people really put their minds together and think creatively that there’s innovation coming out.  We’re seeing it throughout the country, new ways of funding things.  I don’t have a hidden gem right now, but that’s the purpose of this task force – is to get input from the public, to get input from other states, and find out, are there new mechanisms?”  said Corlew.  “I’m not at a place where I’d say we won’t uncover anything new.”

Corlew said one reason he proposed this task force was because the legislature wasn’t making much progress towards a transportation funding solution in recent sessions.

“It’s very important that we take this seriously,” said Corlew.  “The reason why this task force was made up with the people that it is – that is legislators, the governor, the MODOT director, and with private citizens – is that it can be something that not only do we come out with proposals to talk about, but proposals that we as a legislature and the governor’s office can act upon.”

Corlew intends for the task force to have proposals ready for consideration by the legislature in its 2018 regular session.  It will hold more sessions throughout the state in the next few months.

House budget proposal: no state dollars to tolling Missouri roads

The state House’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 would bar the use of General Revenue dollars for anything associated with collecting tolls on interstates running through Missouri.

Kansas City Republican Kevin Corlew proposed lifting that prohibition.

“We’ve got a funding issue that we need to deal with and I think it’s not wise for us as a body to completely remove one of the options from even consideration and discussion,” said Corlew.

MODOT had asked budget makers for money to conduct a third study of tolling in Missouri.  Republicans including Representative Bart Korman (High Hill) said no more state money should be spent on yet another study.

“That’s a waste of a lot of money that could be used to build a bridge or two,” said Korman, who added, “Tolls are a double tax.”

Some, including Hermann Representative Justin Alferman, said MODOT has only shown interest in tolling I-70 and none of the other interstates in Missouri.

“I don’t want to fund the entire state’s transportation infrastructure on those districts that only hug the I-70 corridor.  I think it is incredibly disingenuous of MODOT to be only pushing forward with I-70,” said Alferman.

Corlew also argued that Congress and the administration of President Donald Trump (R) are preparing an infrastructure package, and Missouri should keep all options open to be able to take advantage of it when it is released.

Korman was also unmoved by that argument.

“[President Trump’s] first deal is going to be repeal and replace Obamacare and we’re waiting for that, yet,” said Korman.  “Congress needs to work through [creating an infrastructure plan.]  By the time Congress gets it all done, our [Fiscal Year ‘18] budget will be expired anyway and we can revisit this next year.”

The transportation budget is laid out in House Bill 4.  The House is expected to vote Thursday on whether to send that and the rest of its proposed state budget to the Senate.