I had the honor to meet with Justice Alan Page. The House honored Justice Page on Thursday as he is retiring from the bench this year.
Hello from the State Capitol,
We are in the final days of the 2015 Legislative Session and the House, Senate, and Governor Dayton have been working diligently to come to an agreement on the state’s budget for the next two years. Lawmakers and the governor need to come to a deal by midnight on Monday, May 18th to prevent a special session from taking place.
It appears as though the negotiations may have reached a sticking point over the Governor and Senate DFL’s insistence on any final budget deal including a new gas tax.
The Governor’s proposal calls for a new 6.5% tax on gasoline at the wholesale level which would account for, at minimum, an additional 16 cents per gallon. I do not support a gas tax increase, especially at a time when the state has a $1.9 billion surplus and state general fund revenues continue to be above projections.
What's more, the governor’s own agency, the Minnesota Management and Budget Office, released a report this week stating that the state’s budget surplus and economic turnaround is due in large part to, "Lower gas prices are comparable to a tax cut, freeing up disposable income for spending on non-gasoline goods and services" and that it has meant "big savings for consumers."
Not only is the governor’s gas tax proposal unneeded, it is regressive in nature. The governor’s plan will cause the most harm to seniors on fixed incomes, middle and lower income Minnesotans, as well as those who us in rural areas that have to travel longer distances to get to work.
The vast majority of Minnesotans, including constituents I speak with, are opposed to the governor’s gas tax proposal. In fact, the House voted on an amendment last week that would implement a gas tax similar to the governor’s proposal. The amendment was unanimously defeated, 132-0.
Most lawmakers and Minnesotans agree that we need to find a way to address our transportation infrastructure needs, that’s why I am so encouraged by the Road and Bridge Act of 2015 that was passed by the House earlier this month. This bill is the major component of our comprehensive transportation plan that invests $7 billon over the next decade without raising taxes.
Ultimately I am hopeful that we will be able to complete our business on time and finish the job that Minnesotans sent us to St. Paul to accomplish. I will have more news for you next week as we move towards session’s conclusion.