Results showing voters approve highway amendment

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A state constitutional amendment to direct all vehicle sales taxes and some gas taxes to improving roads and bridges was overwhelming approved Tuesday by Missouri voters.

With 52 percent of the vote counted, the amendment won 79 percent to 21 percent, according to unofficial results.

Supporters said Amendment 3 will provide much-needed money to fix Missouri's roads and bridges, which rank among the worst in the nation.

"The people of Missouri adamantly wanted their road dollars to go to roads, and I think their voice has been heard loud and clear," said Jewell Patek, deputy manager of Yes on Amendment 3 Committee.

Opponents worried moving dollars to transportation would devastate education and social services.

"Aspects about having all this money go permanently to roads is a policy that I hope can be overturned because it's no way to conduct the public's business," said Pat Martin, spokeswoman for NO on Amendment 3.

Half of the roughly $250 million collected each year in vehicle sales tax revenue currently goes toward roads, with the other half going into the state's general fund.

Amendment 3 directs the general revenue share to a new fund to pay off bonds for road construction and maintenance. It phases in the transfer over four years, beginning July 1.

The measure also decreases the amount of road-fund revenues, such as fuel taxes and driver's license fees, that go to other state agencies performing transportation-related duties.

State budget officials estimate general revenue would drop -- and road funds would rise -- by about $73 million next year, and eventually by about $187 million.

"Amendment 3 simply puts existing tax revenues back into the state road fund where they belong, rather than asking voters for more money," Patek said.

Opponents rejected the notion that money is being "diverted" from transportation projects. All vehicle sales taxes went to general revenues until voters approved a 1979 constitutional amendment directing half that money to roads, Martin said.

Legislators cut highway funds this year to other agencies, but the amendment would prevent any agency besides the Revenue Department and the highway patrol from ever getting a share again.

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