With transportation being one of the biggest issues this legislative session, I thought it would be a good idea to give you an overview of the GOP’s transportation funding proposal. 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 across our district. The budget surplus makes it very clear that we can repair our roads and bridges without raising the gas tax, regardless of what Democrats are saying.
The GOP plan would invest $7 billion in state roads and bridges, without raising the gas tax. Overall, the plan would repair or expand more than 15,500 lane miles of road and 330 bridges across the state.
The proposal would include the following over 10 years:
$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 money used for these areas will come from an already-existing sales taxes on auto parts and rental vehicles.
In addition, the GOP proposal uses $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from rearranging some of the Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.05 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.
One of the most important features of the Republican transportation proposal is that it prioritizes long-term funding for small cities, which means that small communities would have 10 years of consistent funding for road and bridge repair.
The “Small Cities Program,” which was initially created 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.
Cities with populations of over 5,000 people, such as Hutchinson and Glencoe, would continue to receive funding through a separate state formula, as would other large municipalities every year.
There should be some great conversation around this proposal in the coming legislative session. I sincerely hope that we can do what’s best for the vast majority of Minnesotans rather than cutting necessary road and bridge funding in order to pay for the expansion of light rail in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, as the governor and DFL support.
I will continue to update you on any issues that arise, especially since we have very important issues to deal with in a short legislative session. Have a great week!