News Briefs

Group abandons effort to force a vote on Missouri gas tax increase

By: - August 2, 2021 3:15 pm

(Creative Commons photo courtesy of WikiMedia)

A push by a conservative anti-tax group to force a statewide vote on a gas tax hike approved by Missouri lawmakers earlier this year has been abandoned, the group’s Missouri director said Monday.

Jeremy Cady, state director of Americans for Prosperity, confirmed via text message that his organization is no longer working to place the issue on the statewide ballot.

“We were unable to get all the pieces to come together,” he said. “We’ll be looking at tax reforms the legislature can take up that would remove the extra burdens lawmakers added by increasing the gas tax by 75%.”

Earlier this year, lawmakers approved  a bill to increase the fuel tax in five 2.5-cent steps, with the last increase taking effect on July 1, 2025. It is designed so that each annual increase is less than the constitutional limit on tax increases without voter approval.

Gov. Mike Parson signed the tax increase last month.

Cady opposed the idea of raising taxes without a vote of the people, noting that if lawmakers had increased the tax 12.5 cents in one fell swoop, the constitution would have required it go on the ballot. He filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office to put the question on the statewide ballot, a process that would have required him to collect at least 107,246 signatures spread among six of the state’s eight Congressional districts by Aug. 28.

When fully implemented on July 1, 2025, the state gas tax would total 29.9 cents a gallon. The new tax is estimated to add $375 million annually to the state road fund and provide $139 million for city and county governments to spend on local roads by fiscal 2027.

Motorists who drive an electric vehicle or one that burns another fuel such as natural gas would see a 20 percent increase in the cost of an alternative fuel decal purchased each time a vehicle’s registration is renewed.

The bill also includes a mechanism for receiving a rebate on the new tax. Motorists who keep receipts can file a claim between July 1 and Sept. 30 of each year for a refund of the additional tax.

Americans for Prosperity is a Virginia-based not-for-profit founded by billionaires Charles and David Koch that has spent $100 million or more nationally each election since 2012 on campaigns to support conservative candidates and causes.

The last bill sent to voters by referendum was the Right to Work legislation passed by lawmakers in 2017 and turned down by voters in 2018.

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.