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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Urdahl urges support for House transportation plan

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

ST. PAUL – Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, is urging support for a long-term transportation plan that would invest $7 billion in state roads and bridges over the next 10 years without an increase in the gas tax.

In total, the plan would repair or replace more than 15,500 lane miles of road and 330 bridges statewide.

"Minnesotans, especially those in Greater Minnesota, continue to say a top priority should be to fix our roads and bridges," said Urdahl, an Acton Township Republican. "On the other hand, people also largely oppose raising the gas tax. The plan we are offering shows we can meet both demands."

Over the next 10 years, the Republican proposal invests:

$4 billion for state roads
$1.4 billion for county roads
$583 million for municipal roads
$282 million for small cities under 5,000
$139 million for Greater Minnesota bus services
$60 million for township roads and bridges

The proposal creates a special fund called the Transportation Stability Fund that collects existing proceeds from dedicated tax revenues and deposits them into accounts for each of their dedicated purpose. There are five accounts that would dedicate a combined $3.1 billion over 10 years.

In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the Transportation Stability Fund, the proposal uses $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from realigning Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.1 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.

Expanding funding for the Small Cities Program is one of the major components of the plan. The program, which House Republicans led to passage in 2015, resulted in nearly $130,000 in funding for District 18A, including: Cokato ($33,564), Dassel ($22,662), Watkins ($17,037), Grove City ($15,098), Cosmos ($13,436), Darwin ($11,949), Kingston ($8,213) and Cedar Mills ($7,891).

Through the House's proposal, small cities in District 18A would receive additional ongoing small-cities funding. For example, Cokato would receive $73,841 every two years.

With populations greater than 5,000, cities such as Hutchinson and Litchfield receive funding through a separate state formula. The centerpiece of the House's plan – redirecting the sales tax already being collected on the purchases auto parts and tires – also would provide increased funding to those larger municipalities every year.

"Our smaller cities often have tight budgets that can make it difficult to perform even relatively minor repairs on their roads," Urdahl said. "This direct funding is helpful in taking care of particular issues that local people identify in any given town."