Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and I will be hosting another town hall meeting 10 a.m. April 18 at the Lakes Café in Perham (136 W. Main St). This follows three similar events we recently conducted in Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids and Battle Lake.
This is one more opportunity to weigh in on the issues as we head into the final stretch of the session and face this year's biggest decisions. We addressed a wide range of topics at the last round of town halls, covering everything from ag. property taxes to transportation, school funding, buffer zones, trapping and more.
One thing I would like to clarify regarding transportation: The House recently unveiled a plan which commits $7 billion to improving our roads and bridges over the next decade. Part of that proposal includes dedicating sales taxes already being paid on auto parts to roads and bridges.
Some people appear to be under the impression this is a new tax, but it is not. This applies to the existing sales taxes that are charged when we buy auto parts, contrasting with Gov. Mark Dayton's plan to place a new 6.5-percent wholesale tax on gasoline purchases (roughly 16 cents per gallon at current prices).
The governor issued his State of the State Address this week and there weren't any real earth-shaking moments. He talked about increasing spending for education and transportation.
Lastly, we have received confirmation that the DNR is in agreement with a project to mitigate a persistent high-water problem in the Perham area. One of the next steps is to secure funding for that work and that is included in an $842 million bonding proposal the governor made public this week.
It is good the governor supports the Perham plan, but the $842 million price tag is unlikely to gain widespread support necessary for passage in what is an odd-numbered, non-bonding year by definition. Bonding bills enacted in odd years typically are limited to emergency/critical projects and are much smaller than what the governor is seeking.
Things will start to heat up at the Capitol now that budget bills are starting to take shape in the House. Stay tuned as things develop and I will provide my thoughts along the way. Also, my online survey of issues is still available if you haven't already participated. Click here for that link.