JEFFERSON CITY — With the nation facing the possibility of gas prices heading into the $4 per gallon range next year, at least three Missouri lawmakers want to repeal a recent hike in the state’s motor fuel tax rate.
Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland; Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove; and Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, have filed legislation to strike down the increase that went into effect in October.
For Walsh and Moon, the effort could provide a talking point in their respective bids for Congress, with Walsh seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Vicki Hartzler and Moon trying to take over for U.S. Rep. Billy Long.
Both Hartzler and Long are running for U.S. Senate.
While repealing the gas tax may be red meat on the campaign trail, it faces significant roadblocks under the Capitol dome.
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In the Senate, the sponsor of the increase was Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, who plays a major role in what legislation gets to be debated in the upper chamber.
And the tax hike was heavily backed by Gov. Mike Parson, who said last week that he stands behind the increase, which will boost the tax 2.5 cents in each of the next five years to raise money for road and bridge construction.
“We believe that is the right way for Missouri to do it,” Parson said at a news conference Wednesday.
The increase in the state’s 17-cents-per-gallon tax was Missouri’s first since 1996.
By mid-2025, the fuel tax will have risen a total of 12.5 cents — to 29.5 cents per gallon, putting Missouri closer to the middle of the pack among states’ gas tax rates.
Motorists may recoup the new taxes if they can remember to save their receipts.
The fuel tax is expected to raise more than $77 million in the current fiscal year, according to a nonpartisan analysis by legislative researchers.
In fiscal year 2023, analysts said, the tax could generate $206 million. By fiscal year 2027, when the tax is fully in place, the analysis said the increase could raise more than $500 million.
The increase in Missouri hit just as gas prices began to rise nationally.
And according to GasBuddy, prices at the pump will peak at a monthly average of $3.79 in May before finally retreating below current levels of about $3.29 per gallon by late 2022.
That prediction is not shared by government forecasters.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the national average will likely drop to $3.01 a gallon in January and fall to $2.88 for 2022.
Parson on Wednesday shrugged off the proposed repeals and did not address whether he would use his veto pen if they reached his desk, saying a lot can happen during the upcoming legislative session, which begins next week and runs through mid-May.
“It is way too early I think to predict what the legislative actions are going to be,” Parson said.
The Legislature will move fast on new boundaries for Missouri's eight congressional districts.