JEFFERSON CITY - Citing his frustration with Republican leaders, state Sen. Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, resigned Tuesday from the Senate Transportation Committee.
Mathewson, a 20-year veteran in the upper chamber, said he had "made a lot of commitments" to Missourians to fix the state's highways. He said working in the transportation committee was not helping him achieve that goal.
"Under the circumstances of dealing with the new leadership and the new chair of the committee, I didn't feel like I could keep the commitments I had made," Mathewson said outside his office while the transportation committee met down the hall.
Sen. Morris Westfall, R-Halfway, was appointed chairman of the committee when Republicans gained control of the Senate after last month's special elections.
Westfall said he spoke with Mathewson before the senator announced his resignation. The two have known each other since the 1970s when both served in the House.
"I told him I wish he wouldn't do it," Westfall said.
Last year, Mathewson and Westfall worked together to pass a $2.25 billion bond issue to pay for transportation projects. Last month Mathewson sponsored a bill that would increase the sales tax rate to generate more money for transportation -- a $650 million tax package. The bill has languished in the transportation committee since the middle of January. Westfall has said he does not support the measure.
"I was frustrated with the inaction on the bill," Mathewson said. "It's been in committee for three-and-a-half weeks."
Mathewson said that he will continue to work on transportation issues from the Senate floor but that he does not plan to introduce additional transportation legislation.
Westfall said he hoped to work with Mathewson on a transportation bill before the end of the session.
"I feel like before it's over, we'll try to be communicative on this issue," Westfall said. "We are going to work on getting a bill out" of the committee.