House Republicans Reveal Transportation Funding Plan

March 21, 2017 06:29 PM

Minnesota House Republicans are laying out a transportation funding plan that would charge a new $75 surcharge on electric car owners.

The plan released Tuesday would put $2 billion toward transportation over the next two years largely by diverting existing taxes on car parts and rentals.


The rest would come from the new surcharge and borrowing. The plan envisions $6 billion spent on roads and bridges over 10 years with no tax increases.

"Minnesotans have spoken loudly and clearly that they don't want to have their taxes raised," said Rep. Paul Torkelson, (R) Hanska, chairman of the House Transportation Finance Committee.

"We will not be raising the gas tax or other taxes in this bill."

He said the only new revenue would come from the surcharge on electric vehicles.

"Vehicles that are powered by auto electricity do not contribute to the highway fund as substantially as those that burn gasoline," he said.

RELATED: After Years of Failures, State GOP Restarts Road Funding Debate

Torkelson says lawmakers haven't singled out any specific projects, but will put a focus on roads and bridges across the state.

Democrats criticized the plan for relying on unstable funding sources from the general fund.

"We have very serious concerns with this bill," said Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis.

"I think it's chock-full of gimmicks, alternative facts. The main gimmick is somehow that we can use general fund money to fund transportation long-term."

The House GOP plan also leaves out a major priority for urban Democrats: operational funding for light rail projects. Republicans said it's a divisive issue that local governments should pay for in their own areas.

"The state should not just be footing the bill for a whole program that continues to grow that we don't have any ability or say over," Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines, said at the House GOP news conference.

The House transportation proposal is significantly different than the Senate GOP proposal that calls for $3.6 billion over ten years, although they share several similar funding sources and no new taxes.

Both plans are expected to face significant opposition from Gov. Mark Dayton because they don't provide any new funding sources.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


Tom Hauser

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