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Governor Nixon Calls On Lawmakers To Pass Fuel Tax Increase

Cody Newill
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon came to Sugar Creek, Missouri to push for a fuel tax increase to help fund the state's transportation budget.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon stopped by the recently closed Missouri River bridge on Highway 291 in Sugar Creek, Missouri Thursday to call on state lawmakers to pass a fuel tax hike for transportation funding.

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
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This section of the northbound 291 bridge over the Missouri River was found to have some rusty struts, leading to its closure.

The northbound bridge was closed Wedensday when a Missouri Department of Transportation inspection found a rusted hole through a support strut. 

Nixon said the bridge is indicative of a larger problem with state transportation funding.

"This issue is extreme, and it's real, and it's [happening] right now," Nixon said. "If we can [pass the fuel tax increase], we'll begin turning the cycle away from where it's been, which is erosion, and begin the cycle where it needs to be with investment and improvement."

Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chair Stephen Miller says, even if the fuel tax measure passes, the state's transportation budget problems won't be solved. 

"We're probably going to be beating the drum on funding for years to come," Miller said. "Last year, we tried a grand plan, and now we're playing small ball: we just want to bunt and get on first base right now."

Lawmakers in the Senate are now debating the increase, which would raise gasoline taxes by one and a half cents per gallon and diesel taxes by three and a half cents per gallon. If passed, it would help make up nearly half of the $160 million needed to earn matching federal transportation dollars.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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