Missouri secretary of state puts ballot initiative up for public comment

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:12 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 23, 2013

*Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the petition's stage in the ballot initiative process. The petition has been put up for public comment, but its language has not yet been approved.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has put up for public comment a petition to raise the sales tax by 1 percent to benefit the highway system.

The petition, which was filed by Jefferson City attorney Rodney Gray, would be up for a vote in the 2014 general election. If passed by the public, the sales tax would go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, and be effective for 10 years.

The sales tax funds would be used for the state highway system, city streets, county roads and other aspects of state transportation.

Five percent of the proceeds from the sales tax would go to the County Aid Transportation Fund, 5 percent to the Municipal Aid Transportation Fund and the final 90 percent to the Transportation Safety and Job Creation Fund.

The petition drew words of support from state and county officials.

Robert Brendel, the Missouri Department of Transportation outreach coordinator, said MoDOT is "encouraged" by the steps to increase funding.

Boone County Commissioner Karen Miller said she hadn't read the initiative petition yet, but that she believed more funding is needed for the transportation system.

"We have to find some solution for our transportation system," Miller said. "So, hopefully whatever the citizens come up with, we will be able to make improvements. Hopefully the citizens will approve something."

The petition will stand for public comment on the Secretary of State's office website until Oct. 26. The office has 10 days to draft the language that could be on the 2014 ballot.

"That (public comment) period is designed to make the process more transparent," said Kevin Flannery, deputy director of communications for the office. 

After Kander's office writes a draft of language that would summarize the petition on the ballot, Attorney General Chris Koster will examine its legal content.

Because this initiative petition amends the Missouri Constitution, more signatures are required for it to go onto the ballot. The petition must collect 8 percent of the votes cast in the 2012 gubernatorial election in six of Missouri's eight congressional districts.

The signatures are due to Kander's office by 5 p.m. on May 4.

To make a public comment about the tax increase and transportation funding, Missourians can fill out a form on the secretary of state's website.

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