Governor signs important transit funding bill

Courtesy KCATA.

Courtesy KCATA.

Local transit proponents are applauding a move in Jefferson City that renews the half-cent sales tax they say is critical for funding public transportation in Kansas City.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon yesterday signed the bill that will provide about $35 million in annual funding to the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. The legislation also permanently locks the tax in place, meaning the legislature will not need to renew it.

Here’s more from an KCATA press release:

Public transit counts heavily on the sales tax, which makes up more than a third of the KCATA’s annual budget.

“This is such an important piece of legislation for Kansas City,” said KCATA President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Reardon. “This money is the lifeblood needed for connecting people to economic opportunity. It sets in place the foundation for building a seamless transit network tying the metro area together.”

Robbie Makinen, chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners, thanked lawmakers for recognizing the importance of the funding to Kansas City.

“We are grateful for the support we received from the Missouri General Assembly for service so vital to so many Kansas City residents,” Makinen said.

“This funding ensures that not only will we have a service that helps our residents get work, to the doctor and to the store, but sets the stage for an interconnected regional transit system that helps people throughout our metro area.”

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.

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