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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Gov. Mike Parson smiles Tuesday at Capital Quarries in Jefferson City after signing SB 262, which increases the tax on motor fuel by 2.5 cents in October and 2.5 cents every fiscal year until 2025. Photo by Jason Strickland / Fulton Sun.

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has signed into law the state's first gasoline tax increase in decades.

Longtime transportation funding advocate Parson signed the bill late Monday, spokesperson Kelli Jones said. He held ceremonial bill signings near Kansas City's John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil Memorial Bridge and at other infrastructure projects in the state on Tuesday.

The law will gradually raise the state's 17-cent-a-gallon gas tax to 29.5 cents over five years, with the option for buyers to get a refund if they keep track of their receipts.

The first 2.5-cent increase is slated to take effect in October, which will bring the gas tax to 19.5 cents.

The money will be used for Missouri's roads and bridges.

"Whether rural, suburban, or urban, all Missourians benefit from better roadways," Parson said in a statement.

Once fully implemented, the gas tax hike could generate more than $500 million annually for state, county and city roads. But it's unclear how much of that money governments will get to keep after some people request refunds.

Dan Mehan, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry's president and CEO, said bolstering infrastructure with money from the gas tax will help the state capitalize on its location to become a "logistics hub for the Midwest and North America."

The Missouri Department of Transportation estimated that the state faces a $745 million annual funding gap for roads and bridges.

A conservative advocacy group's Missouri chapter launched an effort to put the gas tax hike to a public vote just days after lawmakers passed it.

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