This week I am pleased to report that legislation I authored dedicating revenue from the existing general sales taxes on auto and truck tires was included as a component in the new 10-year House Republican transportation plan.
In all, the Road and Bridge Act of 2015 (H.F. 4) would put $7 billion into roads and bridges over the next decade, repairing or replacing an estimated 15,500 lane miles and 330 bridges without a gas tax increase.
My bill (H.F. 516) is part of a multi-faceted package, placing general sales tax revenue we already pay on tires into a new fund called the Transportation Stability Fund. Estimates indicate this will generate about $30 million per year. Add those funds to other general sales tax we already pay on auto and truck repair parts, and it will create about $250 million dollars per year in dedicated road and bridge funding.
By making roads and bridges a priority and focusing on existing tax revenue streams we can get the job done without adding a new gas tax. It's also important we do not forget rural Minnesota.
Focusing on roads in our local communities:
· $1.44 billion for county roads
· $583 million for municipal roads
· $282 million for small cities (fewer than 5,000 residents)
· $60 million for township roads and bridges
In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the new Transportation Stability Fund, the Road and Bridge Act of 2015 also includes $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 Tax Revenue Funds.
On another topic, I attended a very informative meeting this week discussing the challenges we face in Greater Minnesota with respect to health care services. You have heard me often speak of how we must improve our ability to attract and keep our elder and disabled care workers, but this issue also impacts the availability of doctors. The Minnesota Rural Health Association provided the following data.
Breakdown of physicians per capita in various regions of the Minnesota:
· Twin Cities metro: 297 citizens per 1 physician
· Small town/small rural: 674 citizens per 1 physician
· Deep rural/isolated: 2,043 citizens per 1 physician
We still have work to do. Thanks for the continued correspondence on these and other issues. Please keep your thoughts and ideas coming my way.