The 2023 Missouri Legislative session wrapped on Friday, May 12 with a historic move in support of public transportation. HB 4 which was approved includes an additional $3 million for a total of $10 million in General Revenue plus $1.7 million from the State Transportation Fund for transit, a 34 percent increase over prior year and more than 580 percent increase since 2021.
This would be the second year in a row public transit saw an increase in investment. In 2022, Missouri invested $8.7 million in transit, an increase of $7 million over 2021. This investment was the first substantive investment in transit in more than 2 decades. This increase is critically needed – considering Missouri had been ranked 45th in the country up until the last legislative session.
This funding will help provide the non-federal or local match required to enable transit providers to draw down some of the $91 billion in federal funds earmarked for transit as part of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Federal funding support requires a 50:50 match for transit operations and an 80:20 match for capital programming. Missouri transit providers have been working diligently to identify local funding sources through sales tax, private contracts and more, but the most significant missing link up to this point had been the lack of state funding. MEHTAP funding held at $5 million. Last year, the MEHTAP funding was raised from $3 million to $5 million in state investment.
The budget now goes to the Governor to sign it into law. It is imperative that transit supporters reach out to the Governor for his support of transit.
Conceal and Carry on Transit
Various bills were introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate this session which would allow individuals with conceal/carry permits to carry their firearms on public transit buses, vans, trains, and other spaces owned or operated by a public transit provider. In light of the understanding that allowing firearms on public transit may serve as a detriment to ridership and has not been proven to enhance safety and security of the system, MPTA, Citizens for Modern Transit, as well as many MPTA members opposed any legislation which would allow carrying concealed weapons (CCW) on transit. Several Missouri transit providers including Bi-State, KCATA, and City Utilities of Springfield testified along with CMT, MPTA, Greater St. Louis Inc., and City of Kansas City at hearings throughout the session.
Thanks to all those who reached out on the impact of these bills as well as the Senators who were engaged to ensure CCW on transit language did not pass this session.