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During the 2015 session, both political parties agreed that a long-term transportation funding proposal is necessary in order to meet our future road and bridge needs.
We just could not find agreement on the proper funding mechanism.
Republicans – as well as many Minnesotans according to a number of polls – support a reliable plan that invests $7 billion into transportation over the next decade without raising taxes. It prioritizes road and bridge infrastructure through the immediate repair of roads in Minnesota communities and highway improvements for commuters and commerce.
By reallocating a number of currently collected transportation-related funds, such as the existing sales tax on auto parts and rental vehicles, we would provide nearly $3 billion for programs such as state road and bridge funding, small city transportation projects, and Greater Minnesota bus services. We also would utilize trunk highway and general obligation bonds, general funds, and realign Minnesota Department of Transportation resources for future needs.
In all, we would repair or replace 15,500 lane miles for all roads and 330 bridges statewide, and it wouldn't cost you one penny more at the pump to make these improvements happen.
On the flip side, Governor Dayton and Senate Democrats want to raise your taxes and fees by more than $9 billion for transportation projects. This includes the highest gas tax increase in our state's history – a minimum of 16-cents more per gallon for gasoline – and their plan would also raise registration fees. In all, these increases would cost Minnesotans hundreds of dollars each year.
An agreement from the other side of the aisle could not be reached. So while we agreed to fund our short term transportation needs for the upcoming budget cycle, a comprehensive long-term funding proposal for our road and bridge needs was lost over a tax increase.
The good news is the debate is not over. We are able to resume discussions on our long term road and bridge funding needs during the 2016 session and we will. Minnesotans now understand that tax increases are not needed to fund our future road and bridge improvement needs, and we are hopeful we can continue progress on our plan that prioritizes transportation within our existing budget when session begins in March.
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