Hello from the State Capitol,
With the second legislative committee deadline fast approaching during this budget year, finance committees are scrambling to have bills heard as the chairs attempt to put together spending proposals in their particular issue area for the next two years.
Just in the past week, I’ve had six bills that I’m chief authoring heard in various committees in order to meet the deadline.
I serve as the Republican lead in the Minnesota House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, and our committee has predictably been quite busy. A proposal I am sponsoring, which would send 100% of the auto part sales tax to Minnesota’s transportation needs, has been heard and I feel somewhat confident that it may be included in our final transportation package.
Opponents of the proposal say my plan will take state revenue away from other programs in government, such as education or health care. My assertion is that transportation works hand in hand with all other areas within state government. Good roads, bridges and transit options are an integral part towards supporting all of government’s other needs, and until transportation is sufficiently funded it will not fully benefit these areas.
My bill would provide over $400 million in existing funds during the next budget cycle to our state’s transportation needs. Of this amount, 8% would be sent to townships and another 8% to small towns that currently don’t have any dedicated funding for their street improvement needs. Keep in mind that 46% of our state’s roads are located in townships throughout Minnesota, and it’s time they received money from a dependable source in order to make needed repairs.
I am disappointed that there will be some increases in costs with varying respects to transportation. On Thursday, committee leaders unveiled a plan that would increase the Metro Area sales tax by ¾ of 1% and force that money to be used on Democrat transit wants.
At a time when Minnesota sits with a record $17 billion surplus, it is incomprehensible that Democrats are looking for ways to raise transportation taxes and fees on Minnesotans. There is just no reason to raise sales taxes on people in the Metro Area to satisfy the Democrats’ unending appetite for new transit options while rewarding Met Council for poor transit management.
I fear this is also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Democrat “revenue raisers,” as the discussions are strong enough to conclude that people will be paying more for several transportation-related tax or fee increases.
Have a good weekend,