Fiscal year 2015 revenue from state taxes and fees used for funding transportation projects in Missouri increased by 4.5 percent compared to projections, resulting in a bonus $47 million to be used by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) for roads and bridges.
According to Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC) Chairman Stephen Miller, this bump in revenue means the state will receive $167 million in matching federal funds in 2017, an amount that would have been lost if the forecast $42 million in revenue had been collected. Miller addressed the increase in his recent “View from the Chair” post.
But, as Miller points out, this increase could be an “anomalous” year and should not be counted on to continue.
“This revenue increase means MoDOT should be able to make its federal match in 2017,” he wrote. “But simply scraping by and just barely meeting federal fund matching does not address Missouri’s long-range transportation needs. Further, the status of 2018 remains unclear since this is a one-time increase for MoDOT. Missouri’s transportation future is uncertain and will remain so until stable, reliable long term funding is put in place. “
Miller continued that the increase for FY 2015 resulted from increase collections on sales taxes on motor vehicles, due to higher prices and volume of cars sold. Lower gas prices, which fueled consumption, actually increase gas tax collections.
“While this increased revenue is good news—it raises another very serious concern,” he added. “One could naively believe this unanticipated revenue solves Missouri’s transportation funding crisis. This would be a huge mistake.”
He went on to say that MoDOT is “woefully underfunded”, being the seventh largest system in the country, but ranking nearly last in funding.
“A serendipitous one-year reprieve from the loss of federal funds does not change the fact that a long term funding solution is essential to preserving and improving our transportation system,” he wrote.
Miller concluded writing the MHTC would meet in August to determine how the additional funds would be used, since the previous forecast did not take into account the matching federal funds. However, the commission needs to tread carefully.
“One thing is clear, this one year revenue increase does not secure the future of the 26,000 miles on our supplementary system—they remain at risk.”