The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently offered its "Ten good reasons to vote against the transportation sales tax" - a mix of reasonable observations and political theology aimed at statewide voters. I'd like to add to the discourse some better reasons why City voters - an important subset of statewide voters about which I think a great deal - should vote FOR the transportation sales tax. It will appear on the August 5 ballot as Amendment 7. To keep to the rubric, I have labeled my reasons 11 through 20.
11) Amendment 7 is a breakthrough for urban transportation policy in Missouri. For the first time ever, the state would support major funding not just for highways and bridges but also for special transportation needs and opportunities in cities like ours.
12) A 'Yes' vote would make state funding available for large-scale mass transit, pedestrian, cycling, greenways, access for the disabled, and "complete streets" projects in neighborhoods throughout the City of St. Louis.
13) St. Louis neighborhoods would be greatly strengthened by these projects, which are derived from The City of St. Louis' Sustainability Plan. Even critics of the tax concede St. Louis has a dazzling list of urban transportation projects that would promote vibrant streets and sidewalks, and connect people to jobs, education, cultural institutions, and recreation.
14) The benefits of a 'Yes' vote greatly outweigh the costs. Sales taxes are high. Like a gas tax, they are regressive. But the benefits of this 3/4 cent increase are real and immediate and will stay right here in the city, and would help all people in the City of St. Louis, including those with lower incomes and special needs.
15) The city, not MoDOT or the state highway commission, sets the priorities for projects in the city. The highway commission gets a final sign off on the list, but the list is set locally - and voters get to see the list before they vote, and can sue if the list is not implemented.
16) The city's list was compiled from the best of practical, high-impact urban, transportation projects that can be completed and benefit all parts of the city over the next 10 years with more than $200 million in funding.
17) City projects would be funded from the sales tax collected in the city.
18) A statewide increase in sales taxes would not put the city businesses that charge it at any additional competitive disadvantage.
19) A 'Yes' vote gives Missouri cities their best chance in modern history to move state transportation policy away from highway projects that promote sprawl. It enables cities and suburban areas to set local priorities, to show by example how transportation alternatives promote economic growth and enrich a region's quality of life. A 'No' vote would serve only perpetuate existing policy. Highway projects would be sure to find other state funding.
20) St. Louis voters have a rare opportunity, right now, to advance transportation projects that befit a great city. A 'Yes' vote on Amendment 7 would accelerate the undeniable momentum in which the City of St. Louis increasingly is seen - nationally and by its own people - as a diverse and dynamic place of immense possibility.
Amendment 7 creates a rare opportunity for city residents. This is a link to the projects in the City of St. Louis.