* The following letter was sent to Mike Cierpiot, State Representative, District 30, Gary Cross, State Representative, District 35, Rebecca Roeber, State Representative, District 34, Joe Runions, State Representative, District 37, Sheila Solon, State Representative, District 31 and State Senator, Will Kraus, District 8.
May 4, 2015
The Honorable Mike Cierpiot
State Representative District 30
201 West Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, Missouri 65101
Dear Representative Cierpiot:
The State of Missouri is facing a dire current state of affairs and a potentially calamitous future if immediate action to address our state’s infrastructure is not taken, and we write this correspondence to urge you to address this most pressing need.
The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission (MoDOT) has indicated that it is facing a $160 million annual funding shortfall that is required to maintain the existing highway system. They note that in the foreseeable future we will only have $325 million available for a system that requires $485 to just keep it in current condition; and that figure does not include funding for any new/additional transportation projects. We currently face the prospect that by 2017 we will no longer be able to match federal funds which will further weaken the state’s ability to maintain our road and bridge system by the loss of $167 million in federal funds; a number that increases to $400 million in 2018 and every year thereafter.
We have a state that has the seventh largest system in the nation, yet we rank 46th in the revenue spent per mile. Currently, there are more than 1,300 bridges throughout the system with weight restricts, and almost 600 bridges are in critical condition. MoDOT has predicted that number will grow to 1,500 by 2024 unless new funding is put in place to address these critical needs.
Clearly, something must be done, and we call upon you, as our elected official, to provide leadership and options to quickly address this matter. A robust discussion throughout the State of Missouri regarding our infrastructure needs – not just highways and bridges but our air, rail, water and mass transit systems as well – is required, as is the creation of a new methodology to fund them. That requires leadership from the Governor and the Missouri General Assembly, and that dialogue regarding long-term funding needs to begin now.
While a state-wide dialogue will take a longer period of time, there is an immediate opportunity to create some new revenues to address the infrastructure funding shortfall. Legislation introduced in the Missouri Senate, SB 540, filed by Senator Doug Libla, Chairman of the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety would provide this immediate funding. The bill, as amended, would raise the tax on diesel fuel by 3.5 cents and other fuel by 1.5 cents and provide approximately $78 million. It is not THE answer to funding our state’s infrastructure, but it is a start and would allow us to meet our state match to receive federal funding. We realize this legislation requires an additional vote in the Senate to be sent to the Missouri House of Representatives, but if such action does occur we ask you to support for this legislation and communicate such to Speaker of the House John Diehl.
We understand and appreciate the reluctance to increase taxes, but the economic foundation of the state and the quality of life of its citizens are inextricably tied to sound infrastructure. Lacking other funding alternatives this seems to be an appropriate course of action and one, with only 11 days remaining in this session of the Missouri General Assembly, which requires your immediate action. We urge your support for this legislation and associated actions that will result in the passage of this legislation in both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly and will put a bill on Governor Nixon’s desk for signature.
The Executive Committee
Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council
Governor Jay Nixon
Kansas City Star
Kansas City Business Journal
Lee’s Summit Journal
Lee’s Summit Tribune