A tax-increasing transportation plan took a baby step forward last week, but it still has a long way to go, and a short time to get there. The Senate gave preliminary approval to a transportation plan Wednesday. The proposal is estimated to raise $500 million for road projects, with around $100 million going to interstates. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Morris Westfall, R-Halfway, calls for two tax increases. It would raise Missouri's general sales tax by three-eights of a cent, to 4.6 cents per dollar, and raise the gasoline tax by 6 cents, to 23 cents per gallon. The revenue would be distributed so that state highways and bridges would receive $385 million, $77 million would go to roads, $27 million to alternative transportation, and $8.5 million for biodeisel and ethanol grams.
Westfall said his bill will probably come up for final approval in the Senate early this week. If approved by the Senate, the bill will still have several steps to go before becoming law. It must be approved by the House, approved by voters and signed by Gov. Bob Holden. And all this must happen before the legislative session adjourns on May 17.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday completed its $19 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2003, which begins July 1. The committee had to make some difficult cuts--amounting to tens of millions of dollars--to balance the budget in such a tight money year. One controversial topic was public school funding. The committee did not give public schools as much as promised, but their proposal did include a $100 million increase for schools.
The committee's budget proposal will be presented to the Senate next week. The budget proposal must be given to the governor by May 10, one week before the session ends on May 17.
A stadium proposal sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, was placed on the Senate informal calendar Wednesday. Bills on the informal calendar may be brought up at any time. The proposal would allow state funding for a baseball stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals and other community development projects throughout the state.
Kinder's stadium bill is on the Senate informal perfection calendar for Monday. Bills on the informal perfection calendar will be debated on the floor. Members can propose amendments. After all amendments have been voted on, a motion will be made to declare the bill perfected, or in final form.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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