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Missouri Senate endorses revamped fuel tax hike

Shell gas station
(via Flickr/dno1967b)
Shell Oil Co. has announced it's shuttering two St. Louis-area facilities. Pictured is a Shell gas station in Florida.

A revised version of a proposed fuel tax hike has received first-round approval in the Missouri Senate.

A substitute version of Senate Bill 623 was adopted Wednesday evening, which would raise the tax on both gasoline and diesel fuel to 23 cents per gallon from 17.

The original version would have only raised the gas tax by 1.5 cents per gallon and the diesel tax by 3.5 cents.

But the “carrot” used to get the bill past a group of fiscal conservatives in the Senate is new language requiring Missouri voters to approve the tax hikes in November.

“I’ve traveled all over the state, (and) every chamber (of commerce), businesses, everybody is wondering when are we going to do something about funding our roads and bridges,” said Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, the bill’s sponsor. “We’ve had our heads stuck in the sand too long. … We’ve got to get moving on this … we’re undermining our economic development (and the) safety of our people.”

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, is a long-time opponent of raising the state’s fuel tax.

“I actually would probably not vote for it, but I would probably not filibuster it,” he said during floor debate.  “I’m pleasantly surprised.”

Senate Bill 623 passed on a voice vote Wednesday night. It needs one more vote before moving to the Missouri House.

Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, is on record as opposing raising the state’s fuel tax. He was not available for comment late Wednesday regarding the added language that would allow voters to weigh in.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.