In an effort to make both a short term and long range commitment to road and bridge improvements across Minnesota, the Minnesota House of Representatives has passed legislation that would make a major funding investment into statewide transportation needs.
The plan invests $6 billion over the next ten years toward the state’s transportation needs without raising taxes. This can happen, in part, by redirecting existing transportation-related funding streams to the Transportation Priorities Fund. This includes existing taxes on auto repairs, auto rentals, the Motor Vehicle Lease Sales Tax, and some of the existing tax on auto parts. A portion of our budget surplus is also utilized, as are Trunk Highway bonds.
Additionally, the transportation proposal would permanently fund $25 million for the Small Cities Road Assistance program, which helps communities with fewer than 5,000 residents with their street repairs. There's also $300 million for the Corridors of Commerce program which includes $50 million of cash investments. This I believe is critical for the future of Highway 14. $35 million is also included for rail grade crossings, as is funding to repair or replace all 97 bridges on MnDOT's local bridge priority list, including two in Steele County.
There are also funding increases to the Municipal State Aid Street program. Under this proposal,
by 2021 the City of Owatonna is estimated to receive $570,000 more than it is in 2017 for its repair needs, while Waseca is expected to collect an additional $153,000 over that time frame. The same is true in regards to County State Aid Highway funds. Again over that same span, Steele and Waseca counties are expected to receive an additional $2.37 million and $1.49 million respectively.
A bipartisan majority in the House recognizes the need to make a significant investment in our road and bridge needs without raising taxes. We are hopeful of working out a good compromise with the Senate and hope to convince Governor Dayton to help us make our transportation infrastructure a top priority.