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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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House Plan Provides a Critical Boost to Minnesota's Transportation Needs

Monday, March 26, 2007
To the Editor, According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, over 1/3 of Minnesota roads are in such serious disrepair they cannot be fixed, and nearly 1/5 of the bridges are deficient or obsolete. In addition, MnDOT states it will take $1.8 billion a year to address the numerous unmet construction and maintenance goals for our highways, roads and transit networks. And because the state has not passed a comprehensive transportation plan in recent years, our state has lost millions of dollars in federal matching funds for transportation. On Saturday Democrats and Republicans in the Minnesota House joined ranks to pass a transportation bill giving a $4.3 billion boost to Minnesota's transportation system. The bill uses a combination of methods to raise revenue including increasing the gas tax by five cents this year and next, the first increase since 1988. While the gas tax has been controversial, increasing congestion in the metro and serious disrepair of roads across the state make it clear that additional revenue is needed now. A Minnesota resident driving an average of 11,000 miles per year will pay about $5 a month more with this gas tax increases, a pretty reasonable price to get to our destination sooner and more safely. It's way too simple to just call this a transportation bill. It's also an economic development bill, a public safety bill and a property tax relief bill that makes our roads safer, moves people and goods more quickly and safely, and turns back the trend of asking property owners to take on the burden of paying for unfunded transportation projects. For the first time in nearly two decades, we're putting significant new revenue into a transportation system sorely in need. It's about time. Sincerely, Mike Nelson State Representative, District 46A