Missouri Lawmakers Renew Sales Tax Critical For Kansas City Bus Service
(Kansas City, Mo. – May 7, 2015) The Missouri General Assembly on Thursday renewed a half-cent sales tax vital to providing transit service in Kansas City.
The Missouri House of Representatives voted 102-54 to give final approval to a bill that provides about $35 million in annual funding to the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.
The sales tax, which comprises more than a third of the KCATA’s annual budget, was set to expire at the end of 2015 without legislative approval. The sales tax would become permanent under the bill passed on Thursday.
Joe Reardon, president and chief executive officer of the KCATA, thanked everyone involved in passing this critical piece of legislation for transportation in Kansas City.
“We are grateful to the Missouri General Assembly for passing legislation that will provide a steady and reliable source of revenue for years to come,” Reardon said.
“As the KCATA embarks on building a regionally, interconnected transit network, this funding will ensure that we continue to provide an essential service that connects people to opportunities whether that be work, school or shopping.”
Robbie Makinen, chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners, praised the General Assembly’s action. He said approval of the sales tax sets the foundation for the ongoing efforts to construct a regional transit system that pulls the community together.
“This is a big step forward,” Makinen said. “This money is critical to forming a transit network that is intended to provide a seamless and safe transportation alternative for our entire region.”
The sales tax has been in place since 1971 when Missouri lawmakers authorized Kansas City and St. Louis to impose up to a 1-cent sales tax for transit.
Both cities approved half-cent sales taxes, which were originally supposed to be reviewed by the legislature every two years.
The St. Louis tax was made permanent in 2003, while the Kansas City tax was only extended until the end of this year.
The KCATA had nearly 16 million passenger boardings last year, averaging about 55,000 a day. About half of the transit system’s daily riders had no other transportation alternative and about 70 percent of all riders use a bus to get to school or work.