The bate-n-switch continues unabated in Missouri’s Republican-controlled government. In his January 16 State of the State address, Gov. Mike Parson requested a $350 million bond issue to replace or repair 250 bridges. This request is apparently in response to the smackdown delivered by taxpayers in the defeat of the previously proposed 10-cent-a-gallon fuel tax.
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDoT) historically funded its operation on a pay-as-you-go basis. But in 2000, MoDoT issued more than $3.8 billion in bonds to finance road and bridge replacement/repair, and $1.8 billion was still outstanding as of June 30, 2018. That debt if funded via a constitutionally dedicated source within MoDoT.
Parson wants his $350 million bond issue funded from general revenue, not MoDoT. This would leave less money available for education, health care and other basic state services to struggling Missourians. The eventual pay-out for Parson’s bond folly over 15 years would be $450 million ($30 million a year). This would ultimately reduce funds from general revenue which funds healthcare, education and other basic services.
Repairing/replacing old bridges is a righteous cause, but doing so by extracting funds from basic services is a rejection of fiscal reality. Imposing a 15-year bridge repair tax on Missouri’s wealthy corporations is a more realistic option. Old adage: when you need money, seek those who have it.
Michael K. Broughton