When I'm asked what the legislature is likely to prioritize in 2016 I tell them your roads, your wallets, and state infrastructure.
Truth be told, we worked long and hard on transportation and tax relief proposals last year, but a compromise could not be reached so we'll be at it again beginning in March.
Regarding a long-term road and bridge finance plan, the differences between the House and Senate plans couldn't be more different. The House relies on existing funding from sales taxes on car parts, vehicle leases, and rentals, bonding, and a small portion of the budget surplus. The Senate plan is primarily funded by a wholesale gas tax increase, which would ultimately increase the price at the pumps by a minimum of 16-cents per gallon.
At one point late last year, due to our projected $1 billion surplus, Governor Dayton declared the gas tax dead but not all legislative Democrats have come around to that line of thinking. As a member of the conference committee that's been chosen to find a compromise on long-term transportation funding, I can tell you that if the Senate and Governor ended the tax talk we could reach an agreement fairly quickly.
Our taxes bill also sits in a joint House/Senate conference committee awaiting action. With a massive surplus, the House made tax relief a top focus last session, targeting working families, veterans, seniors, farmers, college students and Main Street business owners.
Finally, lawmakers are likely to approve a capital investment proposal that funds construction projects across the state. The overall size of this bill is still up for debate, as is the number of Minnesota projects that will be included.
While these are the three topics that will likely dominate legislative headlines in the coming months, there's no doubt other issues will arise and demand our attention. Moving forward, if you have any questions or comments on these Capitol issues do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call my office at 651-296-5368.