Governor Nixon withholds entire Missouri Moves funding - first in Missouri history to fund transit, walking, bicycling

In a surprise move yesterday, Governor Nixon has restricted the entire $20 million in funding from the new Missouri Moves cost share funding.

This week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon eliminated Missouri Moves funding
This week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon eliminated the Missouri Moves funding - the first-ever

Missouri Moves, passed by the Missouri General Assembly this spring, is the first state transportation funding in Missouri history to take the "total transportation" approach, which makes funding available for transit, walking, and bicycling alongside of road and highway projects.

MoDOT has already solicited and received applications for the funding, which was to be distributed as a local cost share program. In the applications that were submitted, local cities and counties were offering to provide 50-80% of the total cost of the projects.

MoDOT indicated that approximately 50% of the funding applications submitted were for multimodal projects, with many bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects in the mix. MoDOT reserved 1/3 of the total funding for multimodal and bike/ped projects.

In addition to the projects submitted specifically for the multi-modal/bike/ped funding, many of the projects submitted for the 2/3 of the funding reserved for road and highway projects also included bicycle and pedestrian elements.

Altogether, a significant proportion of the Missouri Moves funding was slated to go towards pedestrian, bicycle, and transit projects. That is because there is tremendous pent-up demand for such projects in Missouri, and little funding available relative to the demonstrated need.

Will Governor Nixon outline a solution to Missouri's transportation funding issues that also funds transit, bicycling, and walking?

ABC 17 News covered Governor Nixon's decision to eliminate the program, highlighting Jefferson City's two bike/ped applications to the program. ABC 17 gave Governor Nixon's reasons for targeting the Missouri Move program:

Gov. Nixon said the Missouri Moves program was not a solution to a long-term issue of funding the state's growing transportation needs.

"Well first of all, we should pay for the roads with user fees. I said that all along," Nixon said. "We cannot continue to ignore our long-term responsibilities to make our roads safer and better."

Higher fuel taxes are a potential solution to Missouri's highway funding problems, but restrictions in the state constitution prohibit fuel tax dollars from being spent on transit, walking, or bicycling projects.  Governor Nixon has not proposed any solution to that important issue.

In 2014, Governor Nixon articulated similar concerns in his opposition to Amendment 7. But he never proposed workable alternative vision. 

Now Governor Nixon has withheld the entire amound of the first-ever Missouri state funding that actually followed the total transportation approach, and again has proposed no alternative solution that funds transit, bicycling, walking, and other important multi-modal transportation needs.

So this is an issue Governor Nixon has failed to address over the long term: He opposes any solution to Missouri transportation funding except a fuel tax increase, but then completely fails to address the issue of how transit, walking, and bicycling will be funded, when the Missouri Constitution prohibits those uses of the fuel tax.

What is his solution for Missouri transportation funding that will provide needed funding for transit, walking, and bicycling?

We challenge Governor Nixon to be more than the "Governor of No". We challenge him to outline an actual positive solution to solve Missouri's transportation needs that includes, as an integral part, much-needed funding for transit, walking, and bicycling.

Why was Missouri Moves targeted? A discussion with Missouri Director of Budget Dan Haug

Friday MoBikeFed had a discussion with Missouri Director of Budget Dan Haug about Governor Nixon's elimination of the Missouri Moves funding.

We asked Haug these questions:

  • Why was the Missouri Moves program targeted for the cut?
  • Why was the funding for the Missouri Moves program entirely withhold, rather than simply reduced or partially withheld?
  • Is there are chance the funding will be restored later this year?

Haug indicated that, by law, Missouri must balance its budget. Even though the tax cuts approved by the legislature amount to only 0.25% of the state's total budget, the number of discretionary programs from which the cuts may be made are actually quite a small proportion of the state's $24 billion annual budget. Haug indicated that Missouri Moves had survived an earlier round of budget cuts totalling over $100 million earlier this year. The Governor and his budget advisors felt that it was better to eliminate a new program before it was started than to cut one or several existing programs.

Haug indicated that many vital programs have been cut and so the bicycle and pedestrian funding is not alone in this regard. Those who want spending on important programs need to support the taxes required to operate those programs, Haug argued.

We replied that Missouri has historically spent no state funding on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, despite the fact that our state roads are a vital part of every city's transportation system--and the lack of bicycle and pedestrian facilities on these roads is one of the most important barriers to bicycle and pedestrian travel in the state.  People who walk and bicycle represent over 10% of roadway fatalities and hundreds of serious injuries each year in Missouri, but the state puts no state transportation funds towards bicycling and walking. This makes Missouri an outlier among the 50 states.

Haug indicated that budgeting and budget cuts are an problem of priorities. We agree--and the problem is that the state of Missouri has prioritized walking and bicycling at a budget level of $0 for far too long. It is time to change that.

We asked Haug to consider reinstating all or part of the Missouri Moves funding later in the budget year if the budget situation improves. Haug indicated that this is possible for any of the restricted programs, though--realistically--perhaps unlikely.

What you can do: Contact Governor Nixon

It is important that our elected representatives receive feedback from citizens when they make decisions that affect us all.

You can contact Governor Nixon here. Consider making these points:

  • State funding for walking and bicycling is important to you
  • You are very disappointed that Governor Nixon has withheld the entire amount of Missouri Moves funding, the first-ever Missouri state funding to provide funding for bicycling and walking projects in our communities, alongside funding for road, highway, transit, and multimodal transportation projects
  • Ask Governor Nixon to consider reinstating Missouri Moves funding if the budget situation improves
  • Let him know that we have challenged him to propose a realistic solution to provide needed state funding for walking, bicycling, and transit and to show in a realistic way that he supports these important needs of Missouri citizens

Transportation means a lot more than just highways.  We support a comprehensive solution to state transportation funding that meets the needs of all Missourians.

Bicyclists and pedestrians represent about than 5% of trips taken on Missouri roadways, but: 7.5% of roadway deaths - 15% of roadway injuries – and NO dedicated state transportation funding.

 

 

Working towards needed funding for safety and connectivity for Missourians who walk and bicycle is one way we work towards the goals of "Creating a world-class bicycle and pedestrian transportation system" and "Improving safety for all road users" - two of the key goals in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support helps turn our Vision into reality!

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