Transportation is surfacing as a central issue as we enter the home stretch of the 2016 legislative session.
Most everyone agrees our roads and bridges need improvement, but there are different ideas on how this work should be funded.
House Republicans this week offered a compromise transportation proposal Wednesday based off our 10-year plan to meet the state’s road and bridge infrastructure needs with existing resources. Polls have shown 75 percent of Minnesotan approve of our approach, while a majority disapproves of raising the gas tax as Gov. Mark Dayton and fellow Democrats propose.
Today, we urged Gov. Mark Dayton to join us in funding roads and bridges without a gas-tax increase.
Dayton and his staff are expected to prepare his first transportation offer this weekend and announce it Monday morning. It is disappointing the governor declined an invitation from the House to meet over the weekend, along with Senate leaders and transportation officials. People expect us to reach resolution on this very important subject by finding a solution that best-suits Minnesotans.
Instead, the governor is just going to come out with his own plan on Monday. It will be interesting to see if he backs off the gas-tax increase once again.
Public surveys continually show Minnesotans strongly oppose raising the gas tax and even the governor himself has waffled on the idea. He has rightly called the gas tax "unfair and regressive" and came out as against the gas tax when there was full-Democrat control of our government in 2013. He even declared the gas tax proposal "dead" six months ago, only to put it back on the table.
The House Republican offer released Wednesday puts additional dollars into highways, township roads, turnbacks and makes progress on rail safety. On the transit side, in an effort to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively, the House Republican compromise provides common-sense Met Council reforms.
Transportation is a state obligation and this plan allows it to be prioritized as such in our budget. It is absurd for the governor and Senate Democrats to deny those good provisions hostage and also roadblock numerous middle-class tax reductions proposed by the House because nobody wants to pay more at the pump.
Increasing the gas tax would damage our lowest earners the most and I continue to oppose it. A gas-tax increase is unpopular and the House's plan shows it is unnecessary.
Highway 12 improvements in our region to increase safety and enhance traffic flow are too important to allow the insistence of some that we raise the gas tax to get in the way. Let's work together and get a stable, long-term funding plan in place to fix roads and bridges throughout the state – without raising the gas tax.