Identifying the Local Priorities of our Community
As your state senator, it is important for me to know the priorities of the elected officials that are a part of my district. I reached out to every councilmember, mayor, alderman, etc. in the 26th Senatorial District and asked them to rank their legislative priorities for the 2021 legislative session. Below you will find the results of the survey, as well as a table and graph that shows how local elected officials ranked each topic and how they were scored.
Overall, establishing an online sales tax was the top priority of our local elected officials for the upcoming legislative session. I agree with those who participated in the survey that it is essential that we apply sales taxes equally to every business selling goods in Missouri. How to implement an online sales tax is an ongoing discussion in the General Assembly. One camp wants to cut our state’s income tax rate to offset any new sales tax collections. Another camp believes that these taxes on online sales should have been collected all along and therefore does not see a need to offset any new taxes. Over the course of the next few months, I am hopeful that we will find a solution to this issue so we can implement an online sales tax and allow our brick and mortar stores to operate on an even playing field with out-of-state internet retailers that currently do not charge sales tax.
The second most important priority for our local officials is transportation funding. We all can agree on the importance of modernizing and maintaining our greatest public asset — our transportation system. In 2019, we enacted a $300 million bridge-bonding plan that will repair or replace 200 structurally deficient bridges – and free up $300 million for projects statewide that qualify for federal matching funds. I believe the bonding and local cost share program will generate more than $1 billion in transportation projects. On a more long-term note, Missouri has the 7th largest highway system, but ranks 47th in terms of transportation funding. Missouri has not seen an increase to its gas tax since the early 90s. Our gas tax is not indexed for inflation, and it has not kept up with the strict standards implemented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I have supported increasing our state’s gas tax and will continue to support an increase until we are able to satisfy the transportation needs of the state.
Local officials ranked increased funding for law enforcement as their third highest priority for the upcoming legislative session. Addressing the increase of violent crime rates is essential to ensuring our state continues to rebuild and grow as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. I firmly believe children do better in school, businesses invest and expand and communities thrive when people feel safe and secure. During the recent extra session, we were able to temporarily lift the residency requirement for police officers and emergency responders in the City of St. Louis. Looking ahead to the 2021 legislative session, I plan on working with my colleagues to secure additional funding for local law enforcement in order to help keep our community safe.
In addition, COVID-19 response and recovery is the fourth most important priority for our local elected officials.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri Senate. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3678 or by email at email@example.com — we are honored to serve you.