July 11, 2014
Dear CMT member:
At its June 30 board meeting, the CMT board of directors debated the advantages and disadvantages of Amendment 7, a ¾ percent sales tax increase proposal that will be earmarked for Missouri’s transportation needs, including dedicated funding for public transit. For the first time in Missouri’s history, passage of Amendment 7 will dedicate critical state funding to this region’s public transit system. After a careful, considerable, and thoughtful discussion, the board unanimously endorsed Amendment 7.
Staff and board members of CMT have held several conversations with St. Louis City, Ct. Louis County, and MODOT regarding the list of transit projects which will be funded with proceeds from increased revenue available should Amendment 7 pass. These negotiations have resulted in a priority list for the St. Louis region which increases funding for public transit needs, including the addition of a light rail station as well as studies for future expansion. There is significant commitment on the part of the City of St. Louis to ensure transit receives more than 30 percent of the revenues over the 10 year time period.
Currently, Missouri ranks near the bottom of the list nationally with regards to state funding for transit. Last year, Metro received less than $400,000 in state funds for the operation of a $250 million plus budget.
Here are 7 reasons CMT members should consider supporting Amendment 7 on Aug. 5:
1. Amendment 7 is the first statewide initiative which includes funding for all modes of transportation including public transit. Missouri’s gas tax, by constitutional amendment, can be used only for roads and bridges.
2. The priority list for the St. Louis region includes a wide range of projects including a light rail station in the City of St. Louis, studies for future light rail extensions and/or build outs, streetcars, bus rapid transit and other transit projects. There is significant commitment on the part of the City of St. Louis to ensure transit receives more than 30 percent of the revenues over the 10 year time period.
3. Without a new funding source for transit in Missouri, the St. Louis region is losing its ability to compete for federal dollars for transit.
4. This initiative provides the St. Louis region with approximately $145 million in new revenue dedicated to public transit projects over ten years including a $10 million contribution from MoDOT from other funding sources for BRT in St. Louis City and County.
5. Groups including millennials, older adults and immigrants are heavy users of public transit and support more public transit options. Demands for additional bus and light rail service requires State funding. According to AARP Missouri’s senior population increasingly relies on public transportation resources like city bus services and OATS.
6. Since Amendment 7 is a constitutional amendment, funds cannot be diverted by current or future politicians for non-transportation uses. In addition, necessity goods such as groceries, prescriptions drugs and fuel are exempt from this tax.
7. Both rural and urban areas will receive money for public transit. For the first time, there is a significant funding source for rural transit providers – $80 million over 10 years. Kansas City area has prioritized 30 percent of their funds for transit.
Amendment 7 provides Missouri’s citizens with an important opportunity to increase funding for public transportation projects throughout the State. CMT supports additional revenue to advance this region’s public transit system and encourages its membership to support Amendment 7.
Don C. Musick, III
Chair, CMT Board of Directors