Greetings from the Capitol. This week we passed the Road and Bridge Act of 2015 and forwarded the package to the senate for consideration. It is the main part of a plan which invests $7 billion over the next 10 years in our transportation system.
I am pleased to report our plan does not include a new gasoline tax, but rather requires we dedicate existing general sales tax dollars that we already pay on the purchase of auto and truck repair parts to a Transportation Stability Fund. That dedicated fund is to be used for improvements to our roads and bridges throughout Minnesota.
The plan reaches deep into rural Minnesota with increased dollars for counties, townships and our smaller cities. Cities with populations of fewer than 5,000 residents would receive a combined $282 million for transportation-related projects. Together, municipalities in District 10B would receive about $650,000 annually. Below is an estimate of how those funds would be disturbed.
Aitkin County: Aitkin, $59,860; Hill City, $32,001; McGrath, $16,393; McGregor, $22,923; Palisade, $16,596; Tamarack, $13,522. Crow Wing County: Crosby, $66,902; Crosslake, $123,938; Cuyuna, $26,693; Deerwood, $27,697; Emily, $72,625; Fifty Lakes, $55,039; Fort Ripley, $19,374; Garrison, $25,310; Ironton, $27,357; Manhattan Beach, $15,317; Riverton, $19,002; Trommald, $17,989.
Over the next 10 years, the Road and Bridge Act of 2015 prioritizes repairing or replacing an estimated 15,500 lane miles for all roads and 330 bridges statewide. In addition to the dedicated Transportation Stability Fund, the plan also includes a significant increase in Trunk Highway and General Obligation bonds. The House transportation package is now in the Senate awaiting further action.
On Wednesday April 22nd the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Committee took testimony on the management and regulation of the Mille Lacs Lake Fishery from the DNR and also heard from concerned citizens. I want to especially thank the local public officials and business owners that made the trip to St. Paul to share their insights and thoughtful suggestions with committee.
The message I heard loud and clear is while the take home limit on walleyes is less than we would like it to be, our resorts and guide services on the “Big Lake” continue to provide exceptional walleye, pike, bass and muskellunge fishing opportunities.
We locals generally insist on catching the walleyes we consume at the dinner table, I can tell you from firsthand experience, our restaurants on the Big Lake have that same delicious fish on the menu.
I encourage you to treat that special someone to a night out for dinner. Please don’t be dissuaded from ordering walleye off the menu, it really doesn't reflect upon your fishing skills (or lack thereof, in some of our cases) rather it demonstrates you have an eye for excellent food.
We have wonderful outdoor recreational and dining faculties right here in our back yard. I encourage everyone to “Do the Lake” at every opportunity.