by Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin

One of Missouri’s most pressing issues is addressing the state’s aging infrastructure. Earlier this month, the State Senate passed a plan to fund improvements for the state’s roads and bridges. Most importantly, senate conservatives were able to help improve the plan to save taxpayers $80 million in interest payments and other protections meant to honor taxpayers while meeting the state’s transportation needs.

After the people of Missouri voted down a 10-cent gas tax increase last November, the General Assembly began to come up with new ideas to ensure Missourians have safe roads and bridges while meeting the concerns of the state’s taxpayers. Governor Parson made a proposal to issue $351 million worth of bonds to cover transportation projects, but the House of Representatives made a commitment to cover the cost out of the state General Revenue funds, without putting a burden of debt on our future generations.

In rural areas like Northeast Missouri, people know how badly we need funding for our roads and bridges. We also know how important it is to live within our means. It’s for both of those reasons that my colleagues and I committed to working toward to get the transportation funding we desperately need, as cost efficiently as possible.

This month, the Missouri Senate passed a proposal that is a fair and reasonable approach to addressing our state’s need to repair or replace several of our aging bridges. Whereas the original proposal would have the taxpayers pay off $351 million in debt plus interest over the course of fifteen years, the proposal that I supported, and which was adopted by the senate, called for a total amount of $301 million to be paid off in only seven years. Furthermore, this is to be done only in conjunction with an infrastructure grant from the federal government that could bring the state as much as an additional $60 million for transportation funding. In all, the proposal that was advocated for by conservatives in the senate, saved taxpayers more than $80 million in interest payments.

I am confident that the state’s leaders will come to an agreement on this proposal, allowing us to meet our goal of repairing our state’s bridges and more importantly, one that would best serve the people of Missouri. At the end of the day, taxpayer dollars are the main source of revenue for this endeavor, and the members of our community believe that state government needs to be held accountable for the way their taxpayer dollars are spent in the State Capitol.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.olaughlin@senate.mo.gov.