ST. PAUL – Funding Minnesota’s road and bridge needs will be near the top of many state lawmakers’ to-do lists this year, and State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), chairman of the Minnesota House Transportation Finance Committee, said some of the transportation discussions have already begun.
“This week I met with Governor Dayton and his staff, the Met Council, and Senate and House leaders to discuss how a transportation bill may come together this year,” Torkelson said. “It’s the first big meeting we’ve had this session involving all of those groups and we had a good conversation.”
Torkelson said the one area of contention centers on transportation revenue. Governor Dayton released his budget recommendations recently and it included significant increases in a variety of transportation related fees. He also wants to increase the tax on gasoline by a minimum of 16-cents per-gallon. All told, it would cost Minnesotans $1.5 billion over the next two years alone.
“The governor has some expectations that we’re considering, but we just don’t believe that raising those taxes and fees so substantially in a year where we have a surplus is the way to go,” Torkelson said. “But we will continue the dialogue and I’m happy to have a chance to talk with the governor and his staff and we’ll see where this leads as we move through the session.”