Simple, Progressive & Fair: A Better Way For Missouri To Tax Vehicles

Glenn Koenen

Time to walk over familiar ground…

Last year, as you know, I ran for State Representative in District 95 (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha land).

Among the proposals in my campaign brief: a simple, progressive and fair way for Missouri to increase transportation revenue.

Renew your license plates today and your fee is based on your vehicle’s horsepower. That means a working stiff with an old Oldsmobile with a V-6 engine pays more for plates than that nifty new BMW 325 owner.

Now, I suggested that Missouri should join such “progressive” states as Louisiana – yes, the Sportsman’s Paradise – and base plate costs on vehicle value at renewal time.

❶ The State of Missouri Department of Revenue tracks estimated vehicle values – they supply the values used by counties for Personal Property Tax bills;
❷ Rich folks tend to spend more on cars than poor folks, so, while a few millionaires might still ride around in Oldsmobiles, higher valued cars tend to be in nicer garages; and,
❸ Vehicle value is not tied to fuel source. (Have you ever priced a Tesla?)

You see, despite what Missouri Department of Transportation director Patrick McKenna told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch [ http://www.stltoday.com/news/traffic/along-for-the-ride/missouri-looking-at-changes-to-what-people-pay-for-license/article_4af08ffd-5ca0-5453-9a08-559873e30c62.html ], the real issue isn’t about having “something that’s equitable so it doesn’t hit, let’s say, people that are commuting (to a city) from further out more than others.”

No, the goal MoDOT is pursuing with a $250,000 federal grant (from that evil Obama Administration) is to find a way to get more money out of urban folk – especially liberals – who are more likely to drive electric or hybrid cars.

A general fuel tax increase being a non-starter in Jefferson City and Toll Roads (‘a tax on being rural’) being currently unconstitutional, well, where can they find more money with the least amount of screaming? Tax people who care about the environment, not good Republicans.

Yes, we need more money for transportation – roads, trails, waterways and such. As I suggested last year, I still say charge a $25 plate fee plus 1% of a vehicle’s value to renew for two years with the extra money going to MoDOT. That would mean the new plates on my wife’s 2015 Malibu would jump from $49.50 to $139.00 ($11,415 value x .01 + $25). Meanwhile, the plate fee for a 2002 Oldsmobile Alero would drop to around $30 from the current $55.00.

By the way…since “people that are commuting (to a city)” are driving a lot more miles than other drivers, shouldn’t they pay more since they use the roads more? I know, that’s silly.

Submitted by Glenn Koenen, WCD Member

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