Delaying spending on transportation just means we all pay more says Senator Scott Dibble (DFL) as he presented the Senate majority’s transportation plan to the press Monday morning. Those costs include more accidents and eventually paying more for construction to replace worn out roads and bridges. To start fixing the problem, Dibble is proposing raising about $800 million in new revenue and spending another $576 million through bonding.
The new revenue includes a 6.5% wholesale gas tax that would be based upon the price of gas and set once a year. Constitutionally that revenue can only be used for roads and bridges. License tabs fees would go up. The minimum license tab fee has not gone up since 1981. It also includes raising the metro area gas tax to one cent per gallon – a tax that can also be used to fund transportation projects beyond roads and bridges.
Senator Vicki Jensen (DFL), who says she has opposed other tax increases in the past says a gas tax increase “I can’t think of another path. I can’t find another path,” to finding enough revenue to fix Minnesota’s roads.
Senate And Governor Agree, But House In Doubt
Governor Mark Dayton says to properly fix the state’s roads and bridges about $6 billion will need to be spent in the next decade. The DFL proposal closely resembles what the governor says he supports for transportation funding.
House Republicans have proposed spending less on roads and bridges, about $750 million, with most of the money coming from cutting the Department of Transportation’s budget in other areas, and no tax increase. Asked if Republicans are likely to support the DFL transportation package, Dibble said “that will be a problem,” but he is glad that some Republicans are open to discussing the issue.
Video above: DFL Senate majority press conference on transportation plan
Below: press release from Senator Scott Dibble on his transportation bill
Senator Scott Dibble (DFL – Minneapolis) Chair of the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee, unveiled the Senate transportation finance bill, a comprehensive bill to address Minnesota’s transportation needs now and into the future. The legislation increases revenue for transportation funding to just under $800 million, with an additional $567 million for local roads and bridges through General Obligation (G.O.) bonds.
“Minnesota faces a crisis in how to maintain our roads and bridges, and in how to meet the needs of our growing state. As our roads and bridges continue to deteriorate, we can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to tackling these problems. Instead, we must adopt a comprehensive approach that creates the funding we need for a safe and economically competitive transportation network. Minnesotans deserve a great state and communities that work for all people,” said chief author Sen. Dibble.
According to the Governor’s Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC), the state is projected to have a $21.2 billion dollar funding gap over the next 20 years for our transportation system just to maintain the status quo, and a $54.6 billion shortfall if we want to compete internationally. The Senate legislation prioritizes road and bridge repair, expands economic corridors across the state, and increases the ability of all Minnesotans to get where they need to go in rural, suburban, and metro areas.
The plan provides dedicated revenue for transportation through several methods:
· Gross Receipts Tax: Implements a sales tax on gas at the wholesale level at a rate of 6.5%
· Vehicle Registration Tax Changes: Increases the annual fee Minnesotans pay to register and drive their cars on Minnesota’s roads
· Motor Vehicle Lease Tax and Greater Minnesota Transit: Brings $32 million in transportation revenues to Greater Minnesota Transit, and suburban and metro counties
· Metro Area Sales Tax: Applies a one-cent rate across the 7 county metro area, raising $251.3 million in 2016 (For the average metro resident, an average of $1.30 a week)
· General obligation bonds: $567 million for local road and bridge repair and replacement, as well as rail grade and crossing improvements
· Trunk Highway Bonds: $800 million for Corridors of Commerce ($200 million/year for four years) and $200 million ($50 million/year for four years) for Transportation Economic Development
· Efficiencies in MnDOT: Continues to ensure that transportation funding is spent efficiently
· Establishes a public-private partnership pilot program for transportation projects
· Total New Revenue Generated: $796 million in 2016
“To remain a national leader in the global economy, to ensure that our communities are livable for all residents, and to ensure our roads are able to meet the demand of a growing population, we must make transportation a priority. This bill is the first step towards a 21st century transportation system that works for all Minnesotans.”