Not long ago, a number of city and county officials from our area participated in a meeting at the Governor’s mansion to discuss a transportation funding solution. I’d like to thank them for taking an interest in the topic and traveling to St. Paul to share their thoughts.
As you’ll recall, both the House and Senate approved long term transportation funding plans last session. The House wants to redirect some already-collected transportation-related sales taxes and use some bonding and surplus proceeds to make a $7 billion road and bridge investment. The Senate wants to raise your gas taxes by a minimum of 16 cents per-gallon.
At the meeting, I was asked to support providing more funds to transportation. I mentioned to those in attendance that I was looking for guidance and direction from local officials. As their level of government is closest to the voters, I made a request that when they returned home to talk to their fellow city officials, county commissioners, and constituents and gather their feedback.
If popular opinion favored a gas tax increase, I asked them to approve a resolution stating the level of tax hike they supported and send it to me.
This way, these officials would also be taking a position on behalf of their residents and local taxpayers would know where they stand. In the end, two counties in our district voted for a resolution asking me to raise gas taxes, while the other two did not.
It’s worth noting that there is currently no support in the House for a gas tax increase of any amount. And judging by the local reaction, opinion on the topic is mixed.
No one at the Capitol is arguing against a long-term transportation funding proposal. All lawmakers agree the need is there, and over the next two weeks we must determine where the money should come from and agree on a compromise.