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

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

ST. PAUL - Minnesota could soon see a $6 billion dollar investment in statewide road and bridge needs over the next ten years – without raising taxes – if Governor Dayton stays true to his word.


On Tuesday, the governor said he is likely to accept a Republican-sponsored transportation funding proposal, and drop his own plans to increase gasoline taxes and fees, because Minnesota needs a transportation bill. Minnesota House Transportation Finance Committee Chairman Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said he is pleased with Governor Dayton’s decision.


“I’ll take Governor Dayton’s word over that of any commissioner,” Torkelson said. “He recognized that we can get a transportation funding proposal passed and signed without harming the taxpayers.”


Overall, Torkelson’s transportation funding legislation includes $2 billion over the next biennium and $6 billion over the next ten years without raising taxes. The proposal creates a new fund of existing tax revenue streams called the Transportation Priorities Fund, which uses current, transportation-related state tax revenues to make the new road and bridge investment. It also utilizes trunk highway bonds and a portion of the $1.6 billion budget surplus for additional revenue.


Previously Governor Dayton had advocated for a transportation funding plan that would have raised gasoline taxes by a minimum of 16-cents per-gallon and raised fees in a number of other transportation-related areas.


“It’s really great to see that Governor Dayton understands that Minnesotans don’t want tax increases when we already have a mammoth surplus in the state budget, which has been the Republican position for quite some time,” Torkelson said. “Now that we all agree on how to make long-term funding happen, I look forward to some very productive discussions with the governor and stand ready to send him a transportation funding proposal that he is willing to sign.”