For more information contact: Joan Nichols 651-29X-XXXX
State Rep. Carlos Mariani
Minnesota House of Representatives Contact: Joan Nichols
District 65B (651) 296-9714 (651) 296-8891
563 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155 Joan.Nichols@house.mn
ST. PAUL – This weekend the Minnesota House of Representatives appropriated $4.37 billion for 2008-2009 to keep Minnesota's transportation system moving, passing a comprehensive transportation bill (House File 946) 83 to 46 votes.
"This bill will give Minnesotans safer road conditions, create jobs and promote property tax relief," said State Representative Carlos Mariani. "Years of neglect, under-funding and excessive borrowing have left us with a transportation system that's considerably less safe and more expensive to maintain. Its time to stop looking to property owners to pick up the tab and start taking responsibility for our state's largest investment."
The transportation finance changes in this bill will increase the gas tax by ten cents – five cents this year and another five cents next year, eliminate the caps on motor vehicle tax, allocate motor vehicle sales tax revenue to 60 percent to highways and 40 percent to transit, and other provisions.
"This bill is a much needed first step to mend a broken down system that once so efficiently supported our state's growing economy," said Mariani.
According to Mariani, over 1/3 of our state roads are beyond repair and almost 1/5 of our bridges are obsolete or deficient. The Department of Transportation estimates that $1.8 billion a year in funding will be needed to cover the unmet construction and maintenance goals for our highways, roads, and transit networks.
A comprehensive transportation funding bill has not passed in many years. This has cost us millions of dollars of federal matching funds. Recently, U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar, Chair of the U.S. Transportation Committee, advocated raising the state's gas tax as a means of generating matching money required for federal grants. Between now and 2009 $4.3 billion in federal funds are available to Minnesota – if we come up with matching funds.
The gas tax was last increased in 1988, when the state's gross domestic product was $89.9 billion. Today, a 20-cent/gallon tax is worth just 12 cents/gallon (if inflation is included), and the state's gross domestic product has ballooned to $234.5 billion. "Clearly, transportation is not paying its fair share in the growth of our state economy," said Mariani. "It's time to roll up our sleeves and get on with the business of making some
tough choices that are going impact the economic and environmental well-being of all Minnesotans."
Rep. Mariani can be contacted at (651) 296-9714, by mail at 563 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155 or via e-mail at rep.Carlos.Mariani@house.mn.