More than $600 million in new General Fund dollars would be used to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges over the next two years under an omnibus transportation bill that its sponsor says represents a sustainable transportation funding plan — but that critics have said relies on shifts instead of new, stable revenues.
HF4, as proposed to be amended, represents the particulars of a sweeping plan to increase transportation spending by $7 billion over 10 years that was unveiled by House Republicans late last month. It would inject new funding into the state’s transportation infrastructure by utilizing existing state revenues in lieu of new taxes.
Sponsored by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing), chair of the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, the omnibus transportation bill would shift $412 million in revenues from vehicle-related sales taxes on things like motor vehicle rentals and repair parts from the state’s General Fund into a “Transportation Stability Fund” to be used on road and bridge maintenance across the state. The bill would carry forward $228 million of the projected budget surplus to fund local highways and transit in Greater Minnesota.
Heard Wednesday by the committee, Kelly said the House has worked to “understand where we’re at, and understand the needs, and to put together a sustainable transportation package.”
The committee took no action, but is scheduled to hear testimony Thursday. A vote on the package could come as early as Monday. There is no Senate companion.
It is a bill focused decidedly on roads, not rails.
The proposal would phase out General Fund appropriations to the Metropolitan Council for transit operations and maintenance, eliminate a half-million dollar annual base appropriation from the General Fund to the Department of Transportation for commuter and passenger rail, and require legislative approval of planning for future transit lines, among other changes.
Both Gov. Mark Dayton and DFLers in control of the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee have pitched plans that would introduce a new wholesale tax on fuel in addition to raising the state’s existing gas tax, and an increased metro-area sales tax to fund transit projects.
Critics have said the Republican plan shifts existing state dollars to transportation from other needs like education, and doesn’t establish a reliable dedicated source of increased funding.
What would HF4 do?
The bill includes measures that would:
What’s in the bill?
The following House files are included in HF4:
HF195 (Runbeck); HF215 (Howe); HF293 (Sanders); HF526 (McNamara); HF533 (Nash): HF558 (Howe); HF620 (McNamara); HF710 (Koznick); HF815 (Dill); HF847 (Kelly): HF899 (Runbeck): HF901 (Hancock); HF917 (Nornes); HF1159 (Nash); HF1160 (Sanders): HF1415 (Torkelson); HF1450 (Drazkowski); HF1495 (Green); HF1525 (Loon); HF1526 (Albright); HF1573 (Koznick); HF1596 (Hornstein); HF1646 (Schoen); HF1715 (Kelly); HF1733 (Kelly); HF1744 (Ward); HF1827 (Nornes); HF1822 (Drazkowski); HF1856 (Fenton); HF1866 (Petersburg); HF1924 (Kelly); HF1903 (Hornstein); HF2053 (Theis)