The second big flap coming up is the question of the Transportation tax. MoDot announced their plans this week and Newton and McDonald counties will fare pretty well. Money will be provided to assist OATS and service will be expanded by 1 day per week. All bridges in "poor" condition will be replaced. I 49 will be extended to the State Line (the largest single road expansion at 70 million). 1.8 million will come to McDonald County and 2.9 million to Newton County. 85% of the proposed monies will go to roads and bridges. 5% of the money will go directly to the counties to supplement their CART funds and some small towns like Stella will get sidewalk repairs done. We do have other options but if we double the fuel taxes, they can only be used for roads. No other infrastructure repairs are allowed by Federal law. There will unfortunately be a lessening of service on letter roads and no new overlay can be done. It's kind of a tough pill to swallow getting a tax increase, but it will not apply to food or medicines and it does have a 10-year sunset. It is up to the voters to decide and you can be sure there will be a lot of discussion before August 5th.
The last bit of crummy news I have for this week is the Governor's threats to withhold money from the budget. The Governor has the option to withhold funds from the proposed budget if he feels like there is a danger that we will not be able to balance. The Constitution gives him the option of keeping back up to 3% of the proposed money if he feels like the budget is in jeopardy. Remember, he is the one who insisted growth would be 5.8%. Yesterday's figures were .9% increase over last year. He is, however telling the press that he is withholding massive amounts in case our tax cuts (that don't go into effect for at least a year) are passed in veto session. It's also worth mentioning that when he has withheld in the past and our figures don't drop, he NEVER gives back the full amount he withheld. Of course if he runs short, he just swipes money from Children's Services to pay his club dues!
We attended the second Friday coffee at the McDonald County Chamber. It was a well-attended meeting and I got a chance to hear from a lot of business people. It looks like next week will be a doozy! Until next time, I am and remain in your service.