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House passes Holden transportation plan

April 05, 2001
By: Matt Williams
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 924

JEFFERSON CITY - The House approved Gov. Bob Holden's "One Missouri Transportation Plan" in a near party-line vote Thursday that followed last-minute arm twisting to ensure its passage.

The measure now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Republican leaders are expected to give the proposal a cool reception.

The $670 million plan sponsored by Rep. Gary Wiggins, D-New Cambria, passed 83-71, only one more vote than was required to move the bill to the Senate.

The three Columbia-area representatives voted in favor of the Holden proposal, which calls for a three cent increase in the gas tax and a 3/4-cent increase in the sales tax. If voters approve, proceeds would be used to fund road improvements, highway maintenance, public transportation and related projects.

Republicans, who voted overwhelmingly against the bill, claimed Holden was proposing one of the biggest tax increases in Missouri history.

"We are hitting the littlest guy the hardest if we pass this tax increase," Minority Floor Leader Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, said while urging the House to withhold its approval.

After the vote, Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he voted for the plan because transportation is a major concern of his constituents, and that in the end voters will decide whether taxes should be increased.

"The voters are the ones who are going to decide whether there is a tax increase to pay for highways or not," Graham said.

In last-minute maneuvering, black lawmakers sought to meet with Holden in order to address concerns that issues of importance to their communities were being overlooked.

"Their issue is larger than just the transportation bill," Holden said. "They wanted to see representation throughout all of state government, and I'm committed to that."

Rep. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis City, a member of the Black Caucus, said black lawmakers had not opposed the bill.

"What we asked the governor for was to continue to understand the agenda of the Black Caucus," Coleman said.

After days of delaying tactics by House Republicans, Holden said he hoped the plan would attract less partisan opposition in the Senate.

"The partisanship hasn't been generated by myself or the leaders in the Democratic party," Holden said. "It was the Republican leadership that decided to hold the Republicans' feet to the fire and make it a party line vote."