JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Rep. Rick Brattin thinks money the state is losing to tax credits would be better utilized to fund the state’s aging transportation infrastructure, and he wants to give voters the opportunity to change the state’s funding priorities with a constitutional amendment. Brattin filed HJR 70 this week to ensure the state adequately funds the transportation department before any tax credits are awarded.
Brattin said his goal is to officially and permanently recognize transportation as one of the state’s top funding priorities. Specifically, Brattin’s constitutional amendment would require both the highways and transportation commission and an independent committee to do an annual evaluation of the amount of money needed to fully fund all road and bridge construction projects for the upcoming fiscal year. The legislation would require that no tax credit be authorized in any fiscal year following a fiscal year in which the department of transportation was not funded to the level requested by the commission.
“We are looking at a funding shortage of $160 million to maintain our roads and highways while at the same time we are giving away hundreds of millions in tax credits each year,” said Brattin, R-Harrisonville, who noted that the state has awarded approximately $1.8 billion in tax credits over the last three years.
He added, “I know my constituents believe the state needs to do a better job of investing in our aging transportation system so that we have better roads both now and into the future. Our revenues are limited and that has made it tough to increase road funding, but we can easily generate the funds we need by stopping this process of foregoing hundreds of millions in revenues through tax credits. My hope is that voters will agree with me that transportation funding should be a top priority for this and future legislatures.
If approved by both the House and Senate, HJR 70 would appear on the November ballot for voter approval.