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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

ST. PAUL - With another projected surplus expected in Minnesota's upcoming state budget forecast, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said there is no excuse for lawmakers to delay approval of a long-term transportation plan that would invest $7 billion in state roads and bridges over the next 10 years without an increase in the gas tax.


"Minnesota House leadership has found a way to fix our roads and bridges without taking any more money from the wallets of Minnesotans," Torkelson said. "In a time of surplus, we shouldn't be raising taxes of any kind, and we now have a way to prioritize our long-term transportation needs without financially harming drivers and taxpayers."


The House plan Torkelson references was approved in 2015, and would invest $4.03 billion for state roads; $1.44 billion for county roads; $583 million for municipal roads; $282 million for small cities under 5,000; $139 million for Greater Minnesota bus services; and $60 million for township roads and bridges over the next ten years.


The plan would redirect some already-collected transportation-related sales taxes and use some bonding and general fund proceeds to make the $7 billion road and bridge investment.


Expanding funding for the Small Cities Program is one of the major components of the GOP plan. The program, which was created thanks to GOP leadership in 2015 would provide nearly $546,000 to our small towns.


"Depending on the size of the town in Brown, Redwood or Renville County, a community could receive tens of thousands of dollars during the biennium to fix potholes or repair streets," Torkelson said.


"What we now need is for legislative Democrats to join us in this endeavor," Torkelson continued. "Previously they stood behind a plan that forced drivers to pay a minimum of 16-cents per gallon more at the pump along with increased registration fees and transit taxes, costing them hundreds of additional dollars every year. Governor Dayton has already declared a gas tax increase dead, so I'm hopeful Senate Democrats will back away from their initial stance and join us in improving our transportation system without raising anyone's taxes.