FOREST LAKE, MN—Ahead of this Friday's February Budget Forecast, Representative Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, is urging support for the 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.
“Transportation will be a top priority for the 2016 session,” said Dettmer. “The significant budget surplus confirms that increasing the gas tax completely unnecessary; we don’t need to take more money out of Minnesotans’ pockets to repair and maintain our road and bridge infrastructure.”
Over the next ten years, the Republican proposal invests:
$4.03 billion for state roads
$1.44 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 & bridges
The Republican 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 $3.078 billion over ten years:
1. Road and Bridge Account – revenue from existing sales tax on auto parts
2. Metro Capital Improvements Account – revenue from existing sales tax on rental vehicles
3. Small Cities Account – revenue from existing rental vehicle tax
4. Greater Minnesota Bus Services Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax
5. Suburban County Highway Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax
In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the Transportation Stability Fund, the Republican proposal uses $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 Funds.
Expanding funding for the Small Cities Program is one of the major components of the GOP plan. The program, which was created thanks to GOP leadership in 2015, resulted in $95,325 in small cities funding for District 39A. Under this year’s GOP plan, cities in District 39A would receive ongoing small cities funding every two years beginning in 2017, including $36,953 for Marine on St. Croix, $36,043 for Shafer, and $136,719 for Scandia.
"The small cities provision is a main tenant of the GOP Transportation Funding proposal,” said Dettmer. “It means that small communities will have 10 years of consistent road and bridge repair funding.”
Cities with populations greater than 5,000, such as Forest Lake and Stillwater, will also receive funding through a separate state formula.
“The debate around this legislation in the coming session should be very interesting. I really hope that we can agree that road and bridge infrastructure in Greater Minnesota and the Metro should take precedence over a train in Minneapolis or Saint Paul.”
Legislators are also working to pass a tax bill this upcoming session and Rep. Dettmer will continue to advocate for significant tax relief in the event of a large budget surplus.
The 2016 session is set to begin on March 08, 2016.