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Missouri Senate nears approval of bridge funding plan

(Missourinet) The Missouri Senate has reached a compromise on Governor Mike Parson’s bridge funding proposal. Thursday, the Senate sent the measure to a committee to review its projected cost. Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, expects his chamber to take a final vote Monday on the latest version calling for $301 million, paid back by the state in seven years at roughly $46 million annually.

Photo courtesy of Tim Bommel, House Communications

During a Senate GOP press conference Thursday, Schatz says the bonds would only be issued if the state is awarded federal infrastructure grants later this year.

“We’ve asked for $172 million. We don’t think we’ll get $172 million,” says Schatz. I think that would be great – it would be like a fantastic idea. We think something north of $60-70 million.”

The bonds would include about $22.6 million in total interest to help fix 251 mostly rural bridges and the highly-traveled Rocheport bridge along I-70 in mid-Missouri.

Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, has been working with House leaders and says he feels comfortable they will get the bill to the governor’s desk.

“I’m not sure anybody loves it, from all sides of the spectrum. Some folks didn’t want a bond. Some people don’t want to use general revenue,” says Rowden. “Everybody knows there’s a problem, but it’s one of those things that it is progress and it accomplishes what we all see as a need.”

The governor, a fellow Republican, responded to the Senate’s efforts.

“I appreciate the collaborative efforts by the Senate and the House on this shared priority and am encouraged by the important step taken today to get an infrastructure plan on my desk this session,” Parson says in a press release. “While our preference would be for an approach that does not put the fate of long overdue bridge repairs in the hands of Washington D.C., we certainly understand that any proposed plan requires compromise to reach a workable solution.”

Last week, members of the Missouri Senate Conservative Caucus delayed action on the governor’s proposed plan. Opponents of Parson’s proposal described it as putting the infrastructure costs on a credit card.

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