Hello from St. Paul,
In our transportation finance committee this week, we heard Governor Walz’s updated transportation budget ideas.
The governor wants to increase the motor vehicle sales tax, increase a Metro-wide vehicle sales tax, and increase license tab fees by 31% as well as add a $10 surcharge on each tab.
The governor’s plan would also dedicate only $25 million each year for the Corridors of Commerce, which is the funding program that would likely be utilized to help reconstruct Highway 65.
Highway 65 was ranked #9 on the Corridors of Commerce priority list. If you total the costs of the 8 projects in front of it, the funding needs total well north of $100 million. Again, when you consider our mammoth surplus and our well documented needs to improve our roads, the governor’s funding idea is insufficient, despite the numerous tax hikes.
On the other hand, we heard a proposal on Tuesday that would dedicate all auto part sales tax revenue to Minnesota’s transportation needs. If signed into law, this plan would provide $400 million in existing revenue to the Highway Users Tax Distribution Fund over the next two years, which would do more to fund Highway 65 than anything in the governor’s budget. I am grateful to the Democrat Committee Chair Frank Hornstein for allowing us to bring this bill forward. I am hopeful we can get it included in a larger transportation bill.
With this surplus, we have the rare chance to take care of many of our most important road reconstruction needs with available funding. It’s my hope that we take advantage of this opportunity and finally give Highway 65 the attention it deserves.
The budget targets were released this week. Those targets lay out the spending plans for the House and Senate Democrat majorities. I will send another update that covers those after I dig into the numbers.
Talk to you soon,