DFL Lawmakers Outline New Transportation Budget
DFLers in the House are proposing a transportation budget that promises big investment in roads, bridges, and transit. But can it pass muster with the Republican-controlled Senate? Democrats pitched the plan at a press conference Tuesday morning.
“Minnesotans expect our transportation system to be safe, modern, and efficient,” said Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park. “Under-funding has left roads and bridges in terrible condition and transit is underdeveloped.”
Hortman noted the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Minnesota low marks in a recent infrastructure report card. She said the state scored a ‘C’ on bridges, a ‘C-minus’ on transit, and a ‘D-plus’ on roads.
The proposed budget calls for a 5-cent per year hike in gas taxes over four years. It also proposes an increase in tab fees for newer vehicles, and raising the motor vehicle sales tax from 6.5 percent to 6.875 percent.
Democrats say those measures would inject more than a billion dollars into funding for roads and bridges. Plus, an additional half-cent sales tax increase in the Twin Cities metro area would boost transit funding by $400 million.
Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) says it’s about choices. “A choice between crumbling roads, bridges that are structurally deficient, and a mass transit system that falls further and further behind our competitors,” he noted.
The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Republicans have already spoken publicly against raising taxes to pay for transportation.