Proposed Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3: The main points

Amendment 3, if passed by Missouri voters in the November 2004 election, will dramatically change the funding mechanisms for Missouri roads and highways and all other state funds. This summary of the proposed amendment was prepared by Missourians for Tax Justice on September 9th, 2004. This summary and the conclusions presented are not necessarily endorsed by the Missouri Bicycle Federation.

Summary: Amendment 3
"The Highway Robbery Amendment"

Amendment 3 ("A-3"), an initiative amendment to the Missouri state constitution, will be on the November 2, 2004 election ballot.
  • "A-3" would take money that now goes to fund education, mental health, services for children, families and seniors, and other vital state programs and shift this money to construction of new roads. At present, one-half of the state sales tax paid on motor vehicles goes to state General Revenue and the other half is dedicated for transportation purposes. The shift of state general sales tax from General Revenue to "transportation" occurred with a constitutional amendment in 1979. Until then, all the state sales tax on motor vehicles (as with all other consumer goods) went to the General Revenue Fund where it could be used for Missouri's most critical needs.

  • "A-3" would do away with this split between General Revenue and "transportation" of the moneys collected from the sales tax paid on motor vehicles. General Revenue's half of those sales tax moneys would be transferred to a State Road Bond Fund and could be used only to buy and repay bonds issued by the Highways and Transportation Commission.
    Note: Bonds are used for new construction, not maintenance and repairs. Also note that the decision on spending of these new highway funds would be made by an appointed commission. There is no legislative oversight in the spending of these funds.
  • "A-3" would reduce the funds the Department of Revenue may receive for collection of the various transportation-related taxes and fees. These funds pay for the department's highway-related operations. The Revenue Department will have to have more dollars from General Revenue or cut back services. A cut back would probably mean some license offices would have to be closed. It could mean longer travel to license offices and longer waits to get vehicle titles and driver's licenses.

  • Funds now appropriated to the Revenue Department from the state Highways and Transpor-tation Department fund would no longer be available. If these funds are not replaced, the department will be unable to perform administrative enforcement of driver license suspensions and convictions or vehicle registration suspensions. If funds for enforcement are not replaced with General Revenue dollars, then critical activities like DWI enforcement will have to be eliminated. Failure to adequately enforce state drunk driving laws could jeopardize millions of dollars worth of federal highway funds the state would otherwise receive.

  • "A-3" would give a tiny 1% increase to "multi-modal" (the only source of state funds for aviation, rail, transit and water ports). It is estimated this increase amounts to less than one million dollars a year. State funds for multi-modal were $13.8 million in Fiscal Year 2004. In comparison, MoDOT received over one and one-half billion dollars for highways in Fiscal Year 2004. In addition, this proposed amendment clarifies that moneys deposited in the state road bond fund or state road fund shall not be used for multimodal purposes and thus reinforces the present neglect of alternative forms of transportation.

  • "A-3" would make a fundamental change regarding funding for the Highways and Transportation Commission, and the Department of Transportation. All moneys from the gas tax, the sales tax on motor vehicles, and license fees "stand appropriated without legislative action." This amendment would allow these funds to be used and expended by the Commission and Department for administrative purposes as well as road and bridge construction and maintenance.

    This would permit MoDOT to withdraw funds from the state treasury without benefit of an appropriation, and that contradicts other constitutional and statutory provisions. Thus this amendment could create a "super-department" that is able to totally disregard the will of the people and state elected officials in regard to its budget and operation.