For more information contact: David Anderson 651-297-7202
We are in the final week of the 2015 Legislative Session as Governor Dayton, the Senate, and the House have been meeting around the clock to negotiate a final agreement that will set the state’s budget for the next two years. Talks have been progressing relatively smoothly, but I am disappointed to report that the Governor and DFL Senate have brought negotiations to a halt with their continued insistence on implementing a new, regressive gas tax that would cost Minnesota families hundreds of dollars each year.
Governor Dayton, as little as eight months ago, called the prospects of a new gas tax, “unfair and regressive.” Given this, it is surprising that he and the Senate DFL have a renewed desire for a gas tax increase, especially at a time when the state has a $1.9 billion budget surplus.
Additionally, the state’s economy has continued to improve as recent numbers show that April general fund revenue was $260 million more than projected. What’s more, the governor’s own agency, the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget, stated that "Lower gas prices are comparable to a tax cut, freeing up disposable income for spending on non-gasoline goods and services" and that it has meant "big savings for consumers."
The House Republican’s transportation proposal stands in stark contrast to the Senate and Governor’s plan. Instead of implementing a regressive tax that will disproportionately hurt lower income and senior citizens, our plan uses already existing revenue streams and redirects them towards transportation spending. In total, our plan invests $7 billion into our roads and bridges without raising taxes. Minnesotans can expect to see 15,000 lane miles and 320 bridges repaired if our plan becomes law.
Ultimately, this all comes down to priorities. Republicans in the House have proven that we can make investments in our nursing homes, education, and roads and bridges without raising your taxes. In fact, instead of implementing a new gas tax, we made these investments AND passed a tax bill that brings nearly $2 billion in tax relief to Minnesotans and their families.
Simply put, it is irresponsible to implement a new gas tax at a time when the state has a budget surplus of $1.9 billion, general fund revenues continue to be above projections, and the Governor’s own budget agency declaring that the strong state of the economy is due in large part to low gas prices. I am hopeful that Governor Dayton and the Senate DFL will soon come to the realization that the vast majority of Minnesotans are opposed to a gas tax. It’s time to stop playing games, get a budget done, and finish the work the people sent us to St. Paul to accomplish.
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