We are in the final days of the 2015 legislative session and I wanted to take some time to update you on budget negotiations. The governor and leaders from the House and Senate have been holding meetings over the last several days in order to come to a final agreement on the state’s budget for the next two years. While progress has been made on a number of fronts, it appears as though the governor and Senate are holding out on a final budget deal—insisting that any agreement include a gas tax increase.
Raising the gas tax is costly to Minnesotans, especially those on fixed incomes or middle and lower income families and is unnecessary due to the state’s current $1.9 billion budget surplus and increased revenue that continues to outpace projections.
Not only would a gas tax hurt Minnesotans, it would also put stress on our recovering economy. Governor Dayton’s own Minnesota Office of Budget and Management released a report detailing the important role low gas prices have had in helping jump-start the economy. The report stated, “Lower gas prices are comparable to a tax cut, freeing up disposable income for spending on non-gasoline goods and services" and that it has meant "big savings for consumers."
Instead or imposing a new gas tax, we should prioritize already existing revenue to address the problems facing our transportation infrastructure. That’s why the House’s transportation proposal invests $7 billion over the next 10 years without raising taxes.
I am hopeful that the governor and Senate will understand the vast majority of Minnesotans are opposed to their regressive and harmful gas tax proposal.
It is time to come together and finish the work the people sent us to St. Paul to accomplish.