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Millions spent on Missouri road, farm proposals

July 29, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Supporters of a pair of Missouri ballot proposals have spent millions promoting the measures that would raises taxes for transportation and create a state constitutional right to farm, far outspending opponents, according to state finance reports.

The reports filed Monday show that a group backing the transportation sales tax has spent more than $100 for every dollar spent by the main opposition group. Supporters of the farming amendment, meanwhile, have spent twice as much as opponents.

The Missouri Ethics Commission reports detail fundraising spending through Thursday and provide the final public accounting before the Aug. 5 elections, though campaigns can continue to accept and spend money that will be tallied after the fact.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment 7 would impose a three-quarters cent sales tax for 10 years to benefit state and local roads and other types of transportation.

Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs reported spending about $2.5 million in support of the measure, with nearly $1.7 million remaining in its campaign account for a final advertising push. Its funding has been fueled heavily by construction contractors, labor unions and others who could directly benefit from the work spawned by the projected $5.4 billion to $6.1 billion in new tax revenues over a decade.

By contrast, the opposition group Missourians for Better Transportation Solutions reported spending a little over $22,000, with less than $3,000 remaining in its campaign account. The group, which has focused its opposition on the type of the proposed tax, got a little less than half of its money from the St. Louis County Municipal League.

The financial edge means supporters of the transportation sales tax will be able to continue running widespread TV and newspaper ads through the election while opponents will have to pick and choose who they target with fliers and signs.

The financial advantage is not nearly as large for supporters of proposed Constitutional Amendment 1, which would create a state right to farming and ranching on par with existing constitutional guarantees such as the freedom of speech and religion.

Missouri Farmers Care has spent nearly $800,000 in support of the ballot proposal while Missouri’s Food for America has spent more than $400,000 opposing it.

Supporters have drawn significant contributions from groups such as the state soybean, pork and corn associations.

Most of the opposition money has come from the Humane Society of the United States, which has supported past efforts in Missouri to impose stricter limits on dog breeders.

Other proposed constitutional amendments on Missouri’s ballot have not attracted much money.

A committee created to support proposed Constitutional Amendment 9, establishing privacy protections against police searches of cellphones and electronic data, reported spending less than $1,000 on printing signs. There is no opposition group.

A committee created to support proposed Constitutional Amendment 5, which would enhance the state’s right to keep and bear arms, said it had spent none of the $5,000 it received from a pair of Republican state senators. A committee opposing the measure also reported no expenditures.

No campaign committees have been formed related to proposed Constitutional Amendment 8, which would authorize a Lottery game to benefit nursing homes for military veterans.


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