JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — On Monday, the Missouri Senate approved legislation to generate funding for transportation projects throughout the state.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 allows the Office of Administration and the Highways and Transportation Commission to issue bonds of up to $301 million to finance the construction and repair of 215 Missouri bridges.
The debt would be repaid by the state over the next seven years, but the bonds would only go into effect if Missouri secures an infrastructure grant from the federal government.
Supporters of the bonding plan view it as necessary to fund state infrastructure projects following voters’ rejection of a fuel tax increase in November.
Among the legislation’s most notable advocates are three of the state’s Republican leaders: Gov. Mike Parson, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden.
“I’m not sure anybody loves it, from all sides of the spectrum,” said Rowden, R-Columbia. “You know some folks didn’t want to bond, some people don’t want to use General Revenue, everybody knows there’s a problem. But it’s one of those things that it is progress, it’s movement forward, and it accomplishes what we all see as a need to accomplish.”
Some senators said they would rather use existing state revenue to pay for bridge repairs, as opposed to issuing debt the state would be forced to pay back at a later date.
This opposing faction negotiated a compromise with the resolution’s supporters. The originally filed legislation had a larger bonding amount that would finance repairs to an additional number of bridges. The updated language lowered the bonding amount and added a new requirement: the resolution will only go into effect if Missouri successfully receives additional funding through a federal INFRA grant.
“Bonding debt is not my preferred way of dealing with this particular transportation issue,” said Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis. “I preferred the House position of appropriating money on a pay-as-you-go basis, and I really did support the House position. But I think we’re perhaps coming to a reasonable compromise on this.”
Senate Concurrent Resolution 14 now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration.