Issue Paper: Missouri Transportation Sales Tax – Bicycle and Pedestrian Issues

On August 5th Missouri voters will decide on a proposed constitutional amendment for a 3/4 cent sales tax to increase transportation funding across the state. Amendment 7 would provide state funding for active transportation for the first time, but the plan is still a mixed bag for walking and bicycling.

This sales has some significant pluses and minuses for Kansas City and the entire state. BikeWalkKC is not taking an official position for or against Amendment 7, however we have worked very hard with regional leaders to ensure that biking and walking are equitably included in any new transportation funding. We urge you to use this information and the links at the end to learn about this issue and make an educated decision before voting on August 5th.

The Good

1. Bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects eligible for state funding.
The most positive component of Amendment 7 is that explicitly authorizes the spending of funds from this state transportation sales tax on things like bike lanes, trails, sidewalks, and transit. MoDOT currently interprets the constitution in a way that limits the gasoline tax to highways and bridges.

2. Dedicated share for walking and biking in Greater Kansas City.
Approximately 8% of KC's Amendment 7 funds would be dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian projects ($59 million over ten years.) $24 million of the bike/ped funding will go towards purchasing the Rock Island rail line for the eventual Katy Trail extension. The remaining $35 million will be distributed around the region by the Mid-America Regional Council. BikeWalkKC staff sits on most of the MARC funding committees, and we will work hard to make sure any new funding has a lasting impact for people who walk and bike.

When bike/ped facilities on other roadway projects like the Broadway Bridge replacement are included, the total share for bike/ped is 9.8%.

3. Streetcar is funded and its sales tax is reduced
A significant amount of funding will be dedicated to the three KC Streetcar extensions (Main Street, Independence Avenue, Linwood Boulevard) and the Prospect Ave MAX line. This will allow the Streetcar Authority to reduce its sales tax from 1% to 0.25%, capping the total combined sales tax increase at 1% in the streetcar district.

4. Support for existing transit services
Another significant amount is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the KCATA's current bus system, bolstering existing services and replacing buses. This would be the first meaningful Missouri state transit funding in years.

The Bad

1. No funding for Amtrak.
Passenger rail will not receive funding from Amendment 7. Missouri's Amtrak service will continue to depend on an unreliable annual budget appropriation from the General Assembly. This makes it unlikely that Missouri will expand Amtrak service with more trains to St. Louis or new routes to other cities. Large tax cuts passed by the General Assembly in 2014 could make it even more challeng to preserve the annual Amtrak funding appropriation.

3. Toll roads are prohibited.
Amendment 7 reinforces the current constitutional prohibition on toll roads. Many states (e.g. Kansas) use toll roads to fund major highways, especially highways with significant heavy truck traffic.

4. Gasoline tax increases are prohibited.
During the ten years this sales tax is in effect the state constitution will also prohibit any increase in Missouri's super low gasoline tax.

5. Local revenue capacity is constrained.
This 0.75% increase will push the total sales tax over 10% in many parts of Kansas City, making it more difficult for local governments to finance local projects. Most local cities rely on sales tax for capital improvments like roads, trails, sidewalks, etc. In the near future, other local sales tax proposals that may be on the ballot include Jackson County regional transit and MetroGreen regional trail funding.

6. Trucking industry won't pay its way.
The constitutional bans on toll roads and gasoline tax increases mean that the heavy trucks that do the most damage to Missouri's roads will not be paying the true cost of their impact.

7. Regional Equity.
The KC region is a net donor to the rest of the state. More than $1 billion of the sales tax will be collected in region, yet only $770 million will be returned for transportaiton projects in Kansas City.

More information

MoDOT's final project list – Projects that would be funded with the new sales tax. 
Yes on 7 – the official sales tax campaign
No MO Sales tax – opponents
Connect KC – Streetcar Phase 2 campaign
Find your polling place and check your voter registration status – Select your county on this site, or Kansas City if you live within the Jackson County portion of the city limits.