The second elephant we tackled was the Transportation Tax bill. The bill proposes a constitutional amendment that, upon voter approval, would allow a temporary 1-cent sales tax to be levied for road and bridge building and maintenance. The tax would have a 10-year sunset and revenues would be shared with counties and municipalities. Even though Missouri has more paved roads than Illinois and Kansas combined, our transportation budget was only one-third the size of Illinois'. What brought us to this point and what are our options? We have had a 17 cent fuel tax levied on a per gallon basis for many years. Before economic vehicles were in demand due to raising fuel prices, we all drove more miles and used lots more fuel. We were buying concrete for less than half the cost today just 10 years ago. Asphalt prices have skyrocketed due to the petroleum base and equipment costs have doubled and tripled. MoDot has cut their workforce, sold buildings and equipment, and been operating on a bare bones budget for the last several years. We have now reached the point where we have to take some steps to remedy the situation. Creating a toll road system was discussed and discarded because soon every 4 lane in the state would have tollbooths like Texas, Oklahoma, New Jersey and others. Increasing the fuel tax would be very costly and I can't imagine the voters approving it. We decided that the voters should make the decision and HJR 68, if approved by the Senate will do exactly that.
That brings us to House Bill 1770, the Right- to- Work proposal. This referendum would, if approved by voters in August, protect individuals from having to join a labor union or pay dues as a condition of gaining or keeping employment. Currently, Union dues cost about $600 to $900 each year, and by a two-to-one margin, members say they do not receive enough value from the union to compensate for their contributions. If members have a mechanism to hold their unions accountable, labor groups will pay more attention to the needs of the individuals they are supposed to represent. From 1993 to 2009, Right-to-Work states created jobs twice as quickly as other states. Southwest Missouri is surrounded by Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, all right-to Work states. If we want to grow our industrial base in Missouri, we must take this step. This bill passed the first vote in the House on Wednesday and is currently on the calendar for a final vote.