ST. PAUL – With the end of session rapidly approaching, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said he expects a comprehensive transportation funding proposal to soon take center stage at the State Capitol.
"It is very important for us to approve a long-term transportation funding proposal in the coming weeks," Torkelson said. "Both sides have had almost a year to debate the pros and cons of various funding methods, and now is the time to find common ground and address our future road and bridge needs."
Torkelson said the House long-term road and bridge funding proposal would redirect some already-collected transportation-related sales taxes and use some bonding and general fund proceeds to make a $7 billion investment. This includes nearly $6 billion for state, county, and municipal roads over ten years, $60 million for township road and bridge needs, and $282 million for small cities that have populations less than 5,000 residents to assist with street repair projects.
Torkelson said he was disappointed in a Senate Democrat decision to allocate just $31 million of the state's $900 million budget surplus for transportation, noting the House majority proposed budget adjustments that ensure the full $900 million can be used for roads and bridges as well as middle-class tax relief.
“I’ve continued to hear from residents who want us to put more money into roads and bridges, so it amazes me that Senate Democrats want to spend almost all of our surplus on more state government programs and barely anything on transportation,” Torkelson said.
Torkelson, who chairs the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee, said he will be keeping a watchful eye on transportation funding progress. If road and bridge projects are adequately addressed in a transportation bill, Torkelson said they won't need to be addressed in his capital investment bill, freeing up more bonding dollars for other construction projects of statewide significance.
"We have a significant projected surplus available, therefore I see no reason to raise anyone's taxes," Torkelson said. "Hopefully we can convince Senate Democrats to recognize this as well so we can move forward on a long-term road and bridge funding solution."