The following was transmitted from Susan Closmore, Director of Public Affairs for the Minnesota House Republican Caucus this past Friday . Susan provides periodic updates related to current activity at the capitol.
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Earlier today, Speaker Daudt and Majority Leader Peppin were joined by members of the House Republican Caucus to call on Governor Dayton to fund roads and bridges without a gas tax increase. Governor Dayton and his staff are expected to prepare his first transportation offer this weekend and announce it Monday morning.
If you remember one thing: As Governor Dayton drafts his counter offer this weekend, we strongly urge him to remember his own words from December: “a gas tax increase is dead”. Minnesotans expect us to fund our roads and bridges and they’ve asked us to do so without forcing them to pay more at the pump.
Earlier in the week, House Transportation Committee Chair Tim Kelly provided an offer to members of the Transportation Omnibus bill (House File 4) Conference Committee. The compromise is based off Republicans’ ten-year plan to meet the state’s road and bridge infrastructure needs without raising the gas tax. Notable change-items include:
- Met Council reforms to improve regional planning and accountability for taxpayers
- Additional $45.8 million for Township & Turnback Aid over three years building off the success of the Republican-led Small Cities Aid program of 2015
- Additional $46 million of immediate funding for Corridors of Commerce
- Increased railroad contributions to rail grade separations and data sharing with emergency responders
There have been a number of columns written arguing for reforms at the Met Council recently including a group of suburban county commissioners, mayors and city council members wrote a column for the Star Tribune this week.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON A GAS TAX INCREASE
Governor Dayton declared the gas tax dead six months ago. “’I think a gas tax increase is dead…” (David Montgomery, “Mark Dayton’s Minnesota gas tax hike: Dead,” Pioneer Press, December 2, 2015)
When the DFL controlled all of state government, Dayton opposed a gas tax increase. “’I don’t support a gas tax,’ Dayton told reporters. ‘I don’t think the people of Minnesota are prepared to support it and that’s the critical consideration.’” (Tom Scheck, “Dayton forces DFL to reconsider gas tax hike,” Minnesota Public Radio, April 9, 2013)
Dayton called the gas tax ‘unfair and regressive’, hurting low-income Minnesotans the most. “Dayton also called the gas tax ‘unfair and regressive’ because it hits middle-class Minnesotans the same as the rich.” (Dan Linehan, “Dayton meets with voters in North Mankato,” Mankato Free Press, April 9, 2013)
A majority of Minnesotans oppose a gas tax increase. “A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll taken March 16-18 shows 52 percent of adults oppose the plan [Governor Mark Dayton’s proposal with a gas tax increase] while 45 percent support it, but the opposition is fiercest in the suburbs outside Hennepin and Ramsey counties and in outstate Minnesota, where about 3 out of 5 residents are against the plan.” (J. Patrick Coolican, “Minnesotans split on gas-tax hike, depending on where they live,” Star Tribune, March 23, 2015).
Three out of four Minnesotans support using existing resources on roads and bridges. “In our poll, 75 percent of Minnesotans approve of that plan [House Republican plan with existing resources] 17 percent disapprove and 8 percent are not sure.” (Tom Hauser, “Survey: Most Minnesotans Oppose Gas Tax Increase,” KSTP, February 25, 2015)
132 members of the Minnesota House voted against a gas tax increase in 2015. (2015 House Journal Page 4042)