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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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McDonald urges support for House transportation plan

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
ST. PAUL – Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, 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.
"It is no secret people want to see our roads and bridges improved," McDonald said. "But they also oppose raising the gas tax and say the state has enough money to do more if we just discipline ourselves to make this a priority and stick with it."
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 $190,000 in funding for District 29A, including Rockford ($46,774), Annandale ($41,162), Howard Lake ($27,396), Montrose ($38,962), Waverly ($24,783) and South Haven ($10,004).
Through the House's proposal, small cities in District 29A would receive additional ongoing small-cities funding. For example, Rockford would receive $102,903 every two years.
With a population of greater than 5,000, cities such as Delano receive funding through a separate state formula. The centerpiece of the House's plan – redirecting the sales tax already being collected on purchases of auto parts and tires – also would provide increased funding to those larger municipalities every year.
"Small cities such as the ones in our area often find it difficult to keep up with maintenance on roads and bridges," McDonald said. "The idea behind this funding is to provide a direct line to put money in the hands of local people who know how to use it best and get the most benefit from the taxpayers' dollars."
McDonald said that, while this funding for small cities is helpful, other, more comprehensive work on roads and bridges remains.
"Highway 12 in our region remains a travel hazard and in need of improvement," McDonald said. "This is a top priority in District 29A and I am currently working with Rep. Jerry Hertaus and Sen. Dave Osmek on legislation to address that issue."
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