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Advocate calls for more state transportation dollars to stay in St. Louis, Kansas City

Advocate calls for more state transportation dollars to stay in St. Louis, Kansas City

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Potholes popping up all over

Three state workers filling potholes in 2014. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

CLAYTON • An advocate urged Missouri state legislators on Monday to explore an overhaul of the way the state spends transportation dollars, with an eye on giving more of them to St. Louis and other urban areas.

Gwen Moore of the League of Women Voters told members of the Missouri House Special Committee on Urban Issues that transportation needs in Missouri's urban areas are being severely underfunded as compared to rural areas, even though the majority of the state's citizens and most of its transportation-related tax dollars come from the two urbanized edges of the state.

Moore encouraged legislators to consider legislation that would 90 percent of gas and auto sales taxes paid by any given county be required to be spent in that county.

“The money is not going to who is paying the taxes,” said Moore.

Moore cited figures showing that Missouri spends the vast majority of its transportation funding in the rural areas of the state, even though more than 80 percent of the state's transportation dollars from gas and auto sales taxes come from the urban regions in and around St. Louis and Kansas City.

Those tipped scales toward the rural areas have led to a situation where Missouri has the nation's seventh largest in-state highway system, though its only 18th in population. As a result, Moore said, Missouri is overfunding a network of rural roads that's far larger than needed for the state, while neglected roads and bridges in urban areas.

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