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After Years of Failures, State GOP Restarts Road Funding Debate

March 20, 2017 05:21 PM

Senate Republicans want to fund transportation projects in Minnesota over the next 10 years while avoiding raising taxes on gasoline or license tabs. Democrats argue that's simply not possible, and there need to be "new" revenue streams. Let lawmakers know your views! 

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Senate Republicans say they have a plan to fund billions of dollars in road and bridge repairs without raising the gas tax.

Legislation unveiled Monday would tap a mixture of existing taxes on car parts and other automobile expenses, federal grants and borrowing to drum up $3.6 billion over the next decade. But it hinges on future legislators agreeing to the same funding mechanism.

The Legislature has failed for several years to finalize a long-term transportation funding plan. GOP Senator Scott Newman said it's time to buckle down and fix basic infrastructure.

"Notice that we are dealing with dedicated funding for purposes of transportation," Newman said at a State Capitol news conference Monday.

"That is something that I think the people of the State of Minnesota have been asking for for a long time now."

Senate Democrats immediately criticized the plan as falling far short of what's necessary, including its lack of funding for mass transit projects.

Minneapolis Senator Scott Dibble said it doesn't raise enough revenue to pay for needed projects. He added that the existing revenue it does redirect to transportation will leave holes elsewhere in the budget.

"I will concede it as new money to transportation, yes," Dibble said. "It's certainly not new money to the State of Minnesota. These are dollars that we use to educate our kids, to fund our college system, etcetera."

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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Tom Hauser

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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