For the first time since 1924, a major statewide funding plan for Missouri highways won't have the support of the Missouri Farm Bureau, whose members form one of the largest and best-organized grassroots organizations in the state.
At the same time it announced it wouldn't support Proposition B on the Aug. 6 primary ballot, the Farm Bureau's leadership also said it would not actively oppose the plan for increasing both the state sales tax and the fuel tax to raise nearly $500 million a year for transportation.
The Farm Bureau favors more funding for highways, but only if major changes are made in the operations of the Missouri Department of Transportation. For one thing, the Farm Bureau would like to see more accountability at MoDOT. And it would like to see projects funded on a needs basis. MoDOT's current funding is split evenly between rural and urban areas.
Proposition B supporters recognize that the tax plan will be tough to sell. Some polls show as much as 65 to 70 percent opposition. But Time for Missouri, a coalition of interest groups in favor of the tax increases, plans to lead an aggressive campaign to convince voters to vote for the plan.
Without the Farm Bureau's help, Proposition B supporters know their job will be difficult. In the end, the biggest push will likely be made in urban areas that have most of the voters.