On a bipartisan vote, the Minnesota House has approved legislation that makes both a short and long-term commitment to transportation funding in Minnesota without raising anyone’s taxes.
In short, its heavy on funding that will improve roads and bridges across the state.
In addition to the billions of dollars that the normal transportation spending bill appropriates, we’re also looking at an extra transportation funding proposal that will fund about $2.1 billion of road and bridge construction efforts over the next two years.
To do this, the House plan redirects existing transportation-related funding streams to the Transportation Priorities Fund. This includes existing taxes on auto repairs, auto rentals, the Motor Vehicle Lease Sales Tax, and some of the existing tax on auto parts. It also utilizes a portion of the projected surplus and uses highway bonding authority for additional funding.
Over the next decade, this legislation is projected to allocate $6 billion to statewide road and bridge needs. And it does this without raising the gas tax.
Additionally, the transportation proposal would permanently fund $25 million for the Small Cities Road Assistance program that I wrote in 2015; $35 million is also included for rail grade crossings, as well as funding to repair or replace all 97 bridges on MnDOT's local bridge priority list.
Not included: the fantasies of nostalgic trains traveling throughout the Twin Cities, paid for in part by the tax dollars contributed to the state coffers by southeastern Minnesotans.
There is no debate that maintaining our transportation infrastructure is a core function of government. Area residents that I’ve spoken with have been adamant that our funding focus should be on roads and bridges – infrastructure used by nearly every Minnesotan every day – instead of the increased light rail wants of the inner cities, and the unsustainable price tag that comes with it.
Those who support common sense transportation funding will believe this bill is a winner.