The first month of session is behind us, and the action has been fast and furious. It would be one thing if much of this action centered on addressing our $18 billion budget surplus and providing tax cuts and tax relief to struggling Minnesotans, but that is not even on the radar of the House Democrat majority. Instead, they are fast-tracking numerous controversial proposals and passing them as quickly as possible.
A less-controversial plan that I am hoping gains traction in the coming weeks centers on providing permanent funding for small city road and bridge improvements.
You may recall that in the year 2015, the Small Cities Assistance Program was established to create a mechanism for state transportation dollars to go to small towns and townships so local governments could fund projects like street repair. Minnesota already had dedicated transportation dollars going to cities with more than 5,000 people, but those communities that don't meet that threshold have been left in dust.
The program has been successful, but unfortunately not permanent. Every two years the legislature has sought a funding source to keep the plan in place.
Under my bill, Minnesota’s auto part sales tax would be used to keep the Small Cities Assistance Program permanently afloat. As it stands today, 50% of the auto part sales tax is directed for transportation-related purposes (and the remaining 50% stays in the general fund). As part of this legislation, 100% of the auto part sales tax would be sent to transportation, with some of it permanently allocated to small city and township road and bridge needs. If utilized, the proposal would allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to towns and townships that could really use a funding boost, as well as increase funding for state roads, all without raising taxes.
My plan is about equity and helping towns that had been ignored for far too long. I look forward to working with the House majority on finding a permanent funding source for the Small Cities Assistance Program this session and believe utilizing the auto parts sales tax revenue is the best way to make that happen.