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

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

ST. PAUL – An updated fiscal forecast is expected from Minnesota's economic experts in the coming days, and State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) stresses that the time is right to approve a long-term transportation plan that would invest $7 billion in state roads and bridges over the next ten years without raising gas taxes.


"If my legislative correspondence is any indication, a majority of area residents support a plan that prioritizes our roads and bridge needs using existing funds and oppose proposals that would ultimately raise the cost of gasoline by 16-cents per gallon," Schomacker said.


Schomacker said discussions between the House and Senate on a long-term transportation plan will resume immediately when the 2016 session begins in March.


The House proposal would redirect already collected transportation-related sales taxes and use bonding along with general fund proceeds to make the $7 billion road and bridge investment. This includes nearly $6 billion for state, county, and municipal roads over ten years, $60 million for township road and bridge needs, and $282 million for small cities that have populations less than 5,000 residents to assist with street repair projects. These projects also provide greater funding equity for Greater Minnesota projects.


Schomacker said the small cities program, which became law last year, has been popular with southwestern Minnesota city officials as it allocated several hundred thousand dollars to area communities. If the House's long-term transportation proposal becomes law, it would lead to more than $1.1 million being allocated on a biennial basis to towns in Rock, Murray, Pipestone, Nobles, Lyon and Lincoln counties.


"This is just another way our House leadership has addressed the needs of rural Minnesota," Schomacker said. "Not only are we providing better funding to our small, rural communities, but we are also trying to take care of their street repair needs."