State budget woes took their toll on Missouri's program of funding river ports this year. All funding for ports was eliminated for the fiscal year 2003 budget that begins July 1.
In a year as tight as this one, such action was probably inevitable. And with this year's passage of Senate Bill 915, a transportation funding measure headed for the August primary ballot, voters will be able to decide whether they want increased taxes to go for transportation needs.
The measure contains proposals for a half-cent sales tax increase and a four-cent increase in the motor fuel tax, which together would yield $511 million in greater annual funding. Approval is by no means certain, perhaps not even likely, but at least voters will have the last say.
Amid the bad news for ports was a reminder of good news about the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority near Scott City, Mo.
Our local port, easily one of the showplaces of all such developments in the Midwest, has been operating in the black for a couple of years now. That is to say, revenue is more than covering operating expenses.
This is just another reminder that the promise of the port and its founders is being realized 27 years after its beginning.