Shall Missouri continue for 10 years the one-tenth of one percent sales/use tax that is used for soil and water conservation and for state parks and historic sites, and resubmit this tax to the voters for approval in 10 years?
This measure continues and does not increase the existing sales and use tax of one-tenth of one percent for 10 years. The measure would continue to generate approximately $90 million annually for soil and water conservation and operation of the state park system.
Constitutional Amendment 1 will once again go before voters in order to give Missouri citizens the opportunity to decide if the state should continue its one-tenth of one percent sales/use tax for another ten years.
In an effort to find a consistent source of funding for our state’s soil and water conservation program and the state parks and historic sites system, voters first approved this tax in 1984, and then again in 1988. In 1996, it was approved with a ten-year sunset provision, meaning that it is required to go before voters every ten years. The tax came before voters again in 2006 and was overwhelmingly approved. Now, in November 2016, voters will have another opportunity to either continue it or to put a stop to it. It is important to remember that this is not a new tax, nor is it an increase of an existing tax. This is an opportunity for voters to approve or disapprove its continuation.
Missouri’s current sales tax is 4.225 cents on a dollar purchase, with some items having an exemption from the general sales tax. The 4.225 cents is then divided into four areas: 3 cents goes to general revenue; 1 cent goes to education; 1/8 of a cent goes to the Missouri Department of Conservation; and 1/10 of a cent goes to Missouri parks and soil and water districts. These are state taxes and do not include cities, counties, or other local taxations. After having been in place for thirty-two years, the one-tenth of a cent sales tax now generates approximately $90 million annually.
Our state parks receive approximately 75% of their funding from the park’s portion of the one-tenth of one percent sales/use tax, with the other 25% coming from grants, user fees, and special funds. Today, the state maintains 88 facilities that cover about 200,000 acres. Missouri’s parks and historic sites are enjoyed by thousands of individuals each year.
Supporters of the tax point out its important value to our state soil and water districts, and they remind voters that since the tax was last renewed in 2006, there have been more than 61,000 conservation practices implemented through $348 million in cost sharing grants, practices such as major changes in some farming strategies, land terracing, installation of waterways to deal with run-off water, highly erodible land being put into permanent grassland, and conservation plans developed by farmers working together. Today, many farmers have adopted minimum tillage practices that help further prevent erosion of their land. Programs funded through the Constitutional Amendment 1 sales tax are directly responsible for the preservation of millions of tons of soil that might have otherwise been carried away by Missouri rivers. It is estimated that upwards to 148 million tons of soil have been saved because of the implementation of these programs. Since the tax was first established, our state’s erosion rate has dropped to that of one of the lowest in the nation.
In addition to our soil erosion rate being one of the best, our Missouri Park System also enjoys the distinction of being one of the best in the nation. Both our state park system and the soil and water districts are under the oversight of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Our state’s one-tenth of a cent sales tax has proven to be a highly efficient funding source for two very needed and worthwhile programs—parks and soil and water. As one of the most consistently and widely approved taxes in Missouri, Constitutional Amendment 1 has enjoyed continued success. Personally, I support this tax and urge you to do so, as well.