JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The price of fuel caused some people to think twice about making the drive to Missouri’s capital city Wednesday for a rally to repeal a recent increase in the gas tax.
More than 30 people gathered in the rotunda to voice their frustration with the first hike in 20 years. According to GasBuddy, the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.90 in the Show-Me State.
Drivers said they aren’t only upset about the cost to fill up their tank but because lawmakers agreed to raise the tax by 2.5 cents annually over the next five years.
“I really hesitated today whether or not I should get in my car and drive down here because I knew how much it was going to cost me to put gas in my car,” Rachel Blackmore said.
Blackmore drove down from Columbia for the rally. The 60-mile drive roundtrip had her thinking twice due to the price of gas.
“That’s quarter of a tank of gas to drive from Columbia to Jefferson City,” Blackmore said. “Maybe more people could have been here today if we weren’t paying $4 a gallon for gas.”
She said Tuesday morning, gas in Columbia was $3.70. Less than 24 hours later, it was $3.99.
Back in October, the first of five installations of a 2.5 cent increase was added on to the 17-cent tax. By the time it’s fully implemented in 2025, the state’s gas tax will be 29.5 cents. The increase also applies to drivers buying diesel.
“I know it’s just 2.5 cents now, but it’s going to be quadruple that in a couple of years,” Blackmore said.
Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, sponsored the legislation last year. He said for someone who drives 15,000 miles a year that gets 18 miles to the gallon, it would cost that driver an additional $1.34 a month.
By 2025, it’s expected to bring in $500 million for roads and bridges, which breaks down to $375 million for a year for state highways and $135 million per year for city and county transportation needs.
“Do I want good roads?” Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, asked the crowd. “Of course, I want good roads, but you already empowered us far enough to make sure that everybody should have a good road.”
There is a way around the tax but drivers must keep their receipts and apply for a 100% rebate.
“I’ve got this thick stack of receipts and I’m going to turn them in and I hope it drives the department crazy because we shouldn’t be paying 2.5 cents more for a gallon of gas,” Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, said.
Drivers will have to submit their receipts to the Department of Revenue between July and September of next year. The form will include space to enter the number of gallons purchased, where the fuel was bought and information about the vehicle.
Blackmore said she has tried keeping her receipts but sometimes drives off without them.
“Keeping track of your receipt has been maddening,” Blackmore said. “I print it and then I’ll drive off and forget to pull it out.”
She’s concerned the price tag on other items will also go up.
“It causes the price of goods everywhere to be more expensive because you don’t just go out back and pick your tomato and it on your table,” Blackmore said.