This constitutional proposal, if approved by the Missouri voters, would raise the state sales and use tax by one percent for a period of ten years. The proceeds from the additional sales and use tax are to be used for transportation purposes. The temporary sales and use tax measure must be resubmitted to the voters every 10 years until such measure is defeated.
I have no problem with our citizens voting on this issue but I do have a problem with asking our citizens to raise their own taxes when they are not privy to the financial position of our state. For example, if we have enough money either sitting still or engaged in a program that has either a zero or doubtful yield, then the state should do the responsible thing and cut spending where it can and re-appropriate that money to transportation related causes rather than just ask our voters to blindly raise their own taxes for transportation.
Now that the budget process is over, I sent out various requests that would help to identify how much money could possibly be moved from wasteful programs and cover the cost of the proposed tax increase when it would be scheduled to kick in but I have not yet received the results.
For todays vote, I voted NO on SJR 16, because I believe it would be wrong to ask our citizens to raise their taxes when neither they nor their State Representative know if there is money to be found in our budget from wasteful programs that can be used for transportation related costs.
If and when the results of my inquiry arrive, it turns out that our state truly has cut what we could from failing programs etc… and actually needs more money to spend on the core functions of state government such as transportation then I would absolutely vote -YES- to get the peoples permission for a tax increase. Unfortunately the vote came in before the answers to my question.
When I do get some figures to consider, I will post them.
I think it is entirely appropriate to make sure our state has the money we need for transportation infrastructure, it is just that I need to consider appropriate information before voting for a proposed tax increase.
What are your thoughts?
Two days after the vote came in I was provided with the information I had requested which indicated to me that the state has over $450 million currently being used to subsidize the tax liability of certain large corporations, in hopes of stimulating the economy, but these spending programs haven’t yielded the expected return considering that Missouri is currently 48th in the nation for GDP and further we have slipped from being the 24th most business friendly state to being the 31st in the time period of one year.
That being said, and assuming we made the necessary cuts and re-appropriations and that there is no wasteful spending anywhere else (not a likely scenario), the proposed tax increase should be adjusted down from a full 1% sales tax increase to only about .38% and the state could still manage to have the money they are asking for.
I think it is entirely appropriate to make sure our state has the money we need for transportation but if I do not receive information that I request in order to make an informed decision then I am compelled to vote NO. I am also compelled to vote no in matters of raising taxes in general due to inappropriate spending as I pointed out above.