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Transportation taxes, spending take center stage at Capitol

April 02, 2019 08:34 PM

The first major test of the transportation funding plan advanced by Governor Tim Walz hit a speed bump on Tuesday in the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate.

"I honestly believe the governor's proposal will have a negative impact on the economy in the state of Minnesota," Senator Scott Newman said even as he agreed to carry the governor's transportation bill as a courtesy so it could get a hearing.

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The governor's plan phases in a 20-cent gas tax increase over the next two years. It also raises license tab fees and the sales tax on motor vehicle purchases.

Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the alternative is a system of highways and bridges that will continue to crumble.

"That $18 billion need is because our system is now 50 years old or older on 50 percent of our roadways," she told the Senate Transportation Finance Committee. "We can continue to patch. We can continue to do those things, but in the end the bases of those roads are getting old and you will continue to see pavement failure as we go along."



However, the committee rejected the proposal on a 9 to 6 vote with all Republicans voting against.

"This is the most regressive tax and it's throughout the whole bill," said Sen. Jason Rarick (R-Pine City). "It's on our vehicles all the way through the time that we own 'em. Every time we fill 'em up, every time we get our tabs. This is the wrong way to go."

Earlier in the day House Democrats revealed their own transportation plan that is very similar to the governor's. House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler says lawmakers will have a distinct choice.

"A choice between crumbling roads, bridges that are structurally deficient and a mass transit system that falls further and furthers behind our competitors in other parts of the country and a choice between potholes and pavement," Winkler said at a news conference.

The House is likely to pass it's transportation plan later this week.

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Credits

Tom Hauser

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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