St. Louis, MO – A controversial proposal which would raise the sales tax in order to pay for road projects will go before Missouri voters next week, and some environmental groups say it represents the wrong priorities for the state.
Missouri voters will decide next week whether to pass the largest sales tax increase in the state's history to fund road projects, but some environmental advocates feel the proposal is a dead-end street. Washington University student and Sierra Club intern Chloe Ames relies on public transportation to get around St. Louis, and says she feels Amendment 7 – which would levy a temporary sales tax of three-quarters of one percent for the next ten years – won't move the state toward a cleaner, healthier future.
"I want to live in an area that my children can go outside and play, and breathe clean air, and not have to worry about getting asthma from just kicking a soccer ball around; or somewhere where they can use public transit."
Amendment 7 supporters say the state needs the roughly 480-million dollars that it would generate annually to repair the roads and highways. Right now, the constitution states that transportation projects are to be paid for only with gas taxes, sales taxes on vehicle purchases, and vehicle license fees.
Ames believes it's important to consider the unintended consequences of investing in highways, rather than looking for ways to improve and enhance public transit options.
"That will also increase urban sprawl, which destroys productive farmland. It creates more pollution in that way, because people therefore need to drive more, to get from place to place."
Opponents of the sales tax say it would be added on top of existing state and local taxes and that the poor, many of whom don't have cars, would bear the largest burden as a percentage of their income. Amendment 7 will be on the August 5th statewide ballot.