JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A group that has fought against cigarette tax increases in the past has begun collecting signatures for an initiative petition that will… increase cigarette taxes.
The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA) wants to put a vote to the people in November that would increase cigarette taxes by 135 percent and other tobacco products by up to 50 percent. The revenue would solely be used to fund transportation infrastructure renovations.
Ron Leone, the executive director of MPCA, says the organization is reversing course to take control on taxes over their own constituents. Missouri’s tobacco tax is the lowest in the nation at just 17 cents per pack, and it has been an easy target in the past for those seeking more revenue streams for the state. This petition would phase in the increase over the course of four years starting in 2017. In 2021, the final tax would become 40 cents per pack.
“In the past 13 years, the people have defeated three outrageous and unfair tobacco tax increases,” Leone said. “We decided that it was time to take control of our own fate and propose a reasonable and fair but still substantial … tax increase that the people will actually support and use the $100 million per year in new funds to help fix Missouri’s dangerous roads and bridges.”
The fact that Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) funding situation has gone into dire straits is no surprise to anyone in the Capitol. Stephen Miller, the Chair of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission has been highly vocal on MoDOT’s need for more revenue, and House leadership has stated they plan to make increased funding a priority in the coming session.
Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, R-Odessa, from the House Committee on Transportation believes this proposal is a positive step for the state.
“It is clear that we need to fix MoDOT’s funding problems,” he said in a statement. “This reasonable proposal helps meet the state’s transportation needs including the backlog of roads and bridges that are in critical need of repairs. It also helps to guarantee we will receive matching funds from the federal government for the foreseeable future.”