The transportation funding plan Minnesota House Republicans rolled out today relies heavily on the state borrowing money through bonding, plus diverting taxes on auto parts, repairs, rentals and leases into road and bridge projects. Democrats warn other areas, like schools and health care, will be hurt. Hanska Republican Paul Torkelson responds, “I don’t we’re creating holes. I believe we’re utilizing a portion of the surplus for a priority in the state of Minnesota, that priority being transportation.” Minneapolis Democrat Frank Hornstein calls that “phony math.” Hornstein says, “If you’re gonna spend 1.4 billion dollars in primarily corporate tax giveaways, and then you’re gonna spend 400 million dollars or more in General Fund money for transportation, you’ve already exceeded the surplus.”
Democrats say a modest gas tax increase is needed for transportation projects. Republicans strongly oppose it.
The House GOP’s plan would send about $2 billion to road and bridge projects in Minnesota over the next two years. Most of the money would come from Trunk Highway bonds, general obligation bonds and one-time funds from the Corridors of Commerce program. About $450 million would come from existing taxes on auto parts, repairs, rentals and leases, plus a new $75 surcharge on electric vehicles.
The proposal includes 35 million dollars for improved rail crossings in Moorhead, Red Wing and Coon Rapids. The bill would require metro counties to fund 100 percent of operating costs and future construction costs for light rail.