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RELEASE: Ahead of Budget Forecast, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen Urges Support for GOP Transportation Plan

Thursday, February 25, 2016

AHEAD OF BUDGET FORECAST, REP. GLENN GRUENHAGEN URGES SUPPORT FOR GOP TRANSPORTATION PLAN

GLENCOE, MN—Ahead of this Friday's February Budget Forecast, Representative Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, is urging support for the 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. In total, the plan would repair or replace more than 15,500 lane miles of road and 330 bridges statewide.

“It’s obvious to me that transportation needs to be a top priority for the 2016 session, and this has been confirmed in my conversations with people in our district,” said Gruenhagen. “The budget surplus makes is clearer than ever that we can repair our roads and bridges without raising the gas tax.”

Over the next ten years, the Republican proposal invests:

$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
$60 million for township roads & bridges

The Republican proposal creates a special fund called the Transportation Stability Fund that collects existing proceeds from dedicated tax revenues and deposits them into accounts for each of their dedicated purpose. There are five accounts that would dedicate a combined $3.078 billion over ten years:

1. Road and Bridge Account – revenue from existing sales tax on auto parts
2. Metro Capital Improvements Account – revenue from existing sales tax on rental vehicles
3. Small Cities Account – revenue from existing rental vehicle tax
4. Greater Minnesota Bus Services Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax
5. Suburban County Highway Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax

In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the Transportation Stability Fund, the Republican proposal uses $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from realigning Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.05 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.

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, resulted in $260,425 in small cities funding for District 18B, including approximately $28,600 for Winsted, $22,056 for Lester Prairie, and $32,758 for Gaylord. Under the GOP plan, cities in District 18B would receive ongoing small cities funding every two years beginning in 2017, including $32,615 for Brownton, $23,045 for Plato, and $39,127 for Henderson.

"One of the most important features of the Republican transportation proposal is that it prioritizes long-term funding for small cities,” said Gruenhagen. “Which means that communities like Steward and Gibbon would have 10 years of a consistent road and bridge repair budget.”

Cities with populations of over 5,000 people, such as Hutchinson and Glencoe, receive funding through a separate state formula. The House's plan would also provide funding to larger municipalities every year.

“There should be some great conversation around this proposal in the coming session. I sincerely hope that we can do what’s best for the vast majority of Minnesotans, and not have the Democrats attempt cutting road and bridge funding to pay for a train in Minneapolis or Saint Paul.”

Legislators are also working to pass a tax bill this upcoming session and Rep. Gruenhagen will continue to advocate for significant tax relief in the event of a large budget surplus.

The 2016 session is set to begin on March 08, 2016.

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