Senate DFL leaders release transportation funding plan

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Sen. Scott Dibble unveiled the Senate DFL transportation finance bill Monday — legislation that would dedicate $6 billion in new revenue for the state’s transportation system over the next 10 years and $567 million in bonding for roads and bridges.

The money would be tapped from a variety of sources including a 6.5 percent sales tax on gas at the wholesale level, an increase on annual license tab fees and a one-cent metro area sales tax on gas. A motor vehicle lease tax would also generate new revenue for transit in Greater Minnesota. 

The one-cent metro gas tax would help pay for the remainder of the state’s portion of the bill for Southwest LRT under the Senate plan. 

The plan mirrors recommendations in the proposal released Thursday by Move MN, a statewide coalition of more than 200 businesses, organizations and local governments. Gov. Mark Dayton has also expressed support for the revenue streams.

Republican leaders who control the House of Representatives, meanwhile, have voiced opposition to tax increases for transportation funding. They recently released a transportation funding plan calling for $750 million for the next four years.

“Minnesota faces a crisis in how to maintain our roads and bridges, and in how to meet the needs of our growing state,” said Dibble (DFL-61), who represents southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods. “As our roads and bridges continue to deteriorate, we can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to tackling these problems. Instead, we must adopt a comprehensive approach that creates funding we need for a safe and economically competitive transportation network. Minnesotans deserve a great state and communities that work for all people.”

The state is projected to have a $21.1 billion funding gap over the next 20 years to maintain the transportation system, according to Gov. Mark Dayton’s Transportation Finance Advisory Committee. To compete internationally, the committee has recommended investing $54.6 billion in transportation infrastructure in the next two decades.

More than 65 percent of the state’s roads and 40 percent of the bridges will be more than 50 years old by 2025, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.