CAMBRIDGE, MINN— Ahead of this Friday's February Budget Forecast, Representative Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) is urging support for 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.
"Improving our infrastructure, filling potholes and fixing our roads and bridges is essential for commuters and commerce in Minnesota, and our plan delivers long-term investments in transportation without a harmful gas tax increase," said Rep. Johnson. "I am hopeful that both sides of the aisle will come together this session to pass a comprehensive plan to repair our roads and bridges without taking more from hardworking taxpayers."
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 $12.5 million in small cities funding for our state. Under the GOP plan, if signed into law, small cities in Chisago County would receive nearly $400,000, and Isanti County more than $28,000, in ongoing small cities funding beginning in 2017.
Legislators are also working to pass a tax bill this upcoming session, and Rep. Johnson 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.