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News from Rep. Anna Wills 5-13-2016
We have just over a week left, and we are now spending the majority of our time in the House Chamber debating and passing numerous bills. Conference committee meetings between the House and Senate have also been meeting to negotiate omnibus bills.
We Can Fund Transportation Without A Gas Tax
In the last couple of days House leadership received word from Governor Dayton that he would be presenting his proposal for a transportation bill on Monday.
Today, the House Republican Caucus held a press conference to reiterate our complete opposition to raising the gas tax as a funding mechanism.
There is no reason why we need to take more of Minnesotans’ hard-earned money out of their pockets at the pump. We have a $900 million surplus, and if a transportation bill is truly a priority for the House, Senate, and Governor, it makes sense that we use that surplus instead of raising a tax that is regressive, and harmful to middle class families. Additionally, we are advocating for dedicating certain sales taxes - that are already collected - to fund transportation needs in the future.
We have been vocal in our opposition to raising the gas tax since the beginning of negotiations last year. In fact, there was a vote on the gas tax in the House last session, and there was unanimous opposition - even the DFL House members voted against it. If the Governor is serious in wanting to pass a transportation bill, his proposal will not include a gas tax. I will stand on this issue for our district, and am optimistic about passing a transportation bill this year.
Capital Investment Bill
Another issue being debated as session comes to a close is a bonding bill. The House has proposed that we spend about $600 million on a bonding bill, while the Senate proposed a bonding bill of $1.5 billion. The largest bonding bill ever passed in state history totaled $999 million, and was passed in 2006. It was comforting then, that common sense prevailed last week in the Senate when this $1.5 billion proposal failed in the Senate Chamber for lack of votes.
The size of the Senate’s bonding proposal is alarming. For bonding projects, we are borrowing based on our state’s credit rating, and we can’t put that in jeopardy for future generations. The House’s bonding proposal budget target would allow for funding of essential projects to build infrastructure around the state, while safeguarding our credit by ensuring our state is not hampered by paying back our obligations in the future. Surveys have consistently indicated that Minnesotans support a more conservative approach when it comes to bonding projects.
Again, I am optimistic that House and Senate leadership, along with Governor Dayton, can come to an agreement that funds infrastructure while borrowing within our means.
Police Officer Day
As a part of National Police Officer’s Week, the House observed Police Officer Day at the start of session today. Thank you to all who serve our communities on our police forces; your service and sacrifice is very much appreciated.
Just a reminder to everyone, polls are open on Tuesday, May 17, for the City referendum on recreational facilities. Early voting is taking place at City Hall today through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Come and vote whichever way you think our community would be best served!
Enjoy the weekend, and good luck to all of our fishermen during tomorrow’s opener!
State Representative 57B
Rosemount, Apple Valley, and Coates