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The Show Me State needs to pay its Amtrak bills before it becomes known as the Deadbeat State.

The state contracts with Amtrak for the train's River Runner passenger line. For the past decade, the state hasn't paid the full amount.

Amtrak trains on the Missouri River Runner line make two daily round trips between St. Louis and Kansas City, with eight stops in between the two hubs, which also connect to Amtrak's national routes.

As we recently reported, the state owes Amtrak $6.5 million in unpaid bills, plus the $11.65 million contract to run the service this year.

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Patrick McKenna said in a House Budget Committee hearing Thursday that the situation was an "embarrassment" that will eventually put the passenger rail service in jeopardy.

We agree, the situation is an embarrassment.

Amtrak has been patiently working with the state, but McKenna said, at some point, it could stop the service if it isn't paid.

Amtrak is under pressure from the federal government to operate in the black, and some Missouri lawmakers are questioning whether the state should keep the service.

We, too, would like Amtrak to be revenue neutral, if not profitable. The question of whether to continue subsidizing Amtrak on a state or federal level is a legitimate issue. But it's a separate issue.

First, Missouri needs to pay Amtrak for the services it already has provided.

News Tribune

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