We are busy working on budget bills this week in the House so we can pass proposals on to conference committees and, ultimately, final passage so we can set a new two-year state budget.
Transportation is a top priority this year and below is a news release I issued to local media this week.
Please stay in touch and, as always, I welcome your input on the issues.
House passes transportation bill
ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved the Road and Bridge Act of 2015 (House File 4), the major part of House Republicans' comprehensive proposal for transportation in Minnesota.
The overall Republican transportation proposal invests $7 billion over the next decade without raising taxes and prioritizes road and bridge infrastructure.
Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, said the goal is to repair roads in Minnesota communities, conduct highway improvements for commuters and commerce, and provide long-term funding.
"I am pleased we put forward a proposal that shows we can do more to improve our roads and bridges without raising taxes," McDonald said. "It comes down to making transportation a priority as we set a new two-year state budget."
Cities with populations of fewer than 5,000 residents would receive a combined $282 million for transportation-related projects through the House plan. Together, towns in McDonald's District 29A would receive around $375,000 annually. Here is a rundown of approximated distribution: Annandale, $81,328; Howard Lake, $54,192; Montrose, $76,979; Rockford, $92,385; South Haven, $19,860; Waverly, $49,059.
Over the next 10 years, the Republican proposal prioritizes repairing or replacing 15,500 lane miles for all roads and 330 bridges statewide. This is accomplished through the following investments:
$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 – such as those already paid purchases of auto parts –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 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.
"Revenue collected from taxes on the purchases of goods and services related to transportation should be used to help improve and maintain our roads and bridges," McDonald said. "Transportation has been neglected in recent years and we are making it a priority."
The bill now is in the hands of a conference committee, which will work to reconcile differences between House and Senate transportation plans before presenting a finished product to the governor for his action.