Last week Republican leaders introduced a $7b plan to upgrade Minnesota’s roads and bridges. This plan included stipulations to spend a portion of the state’s budget surplus, to change the trajectory of existing tax revenue, and to borrow money over the next decade. The plan is smaller than Democratic Governor Mark Dayton’s nearly eleven billion dollar proposal, mostly in part because it allocates a significant amount less for mass-transit projects.

Last week Alpha News spoke with the ranking minority member for the Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee, Senator John Pedersen, about his views on the transportation proposal and proposed gas tax increase…

Pedersen states, “Most people know the gas tax is an antequated system that is no longer meeting the needs of transportation in Minnesota. In fact, as of right now the gas tax has leveled out, and is flat, and is quite frankly is projected to continue to decline over the next several years, and will continue to decline.”

Representative Frank Hornstein, the Co-DFL lead for the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee released a statement stating that the GOP transportation plan quote “shifted money and looted the general fund.” Alpha News sat down with the representative to address why he made this statement…

According to Representative Hornstein, “we need to have a balanced plan that includes roads, bridges, and transit, that also addresses the needs of greater Minnesota as well as the metro area, and honestly assesses the fact that we are falling short in terms of our long-term dedicated funding streams for transportation. Our needs just outweigh our revenue that we have right now.”

GOP leaders are standing firm on not raising the gas tax, but according to Representative Hornstein, this is a large piece of funding the transportation plan, explaining, “We have a plan through the Senate and the Governor that raises revenue from an additional gross receipts tax on gasoline, and also we have a sales tax dedicated to transit purposes for the metro area.”

The transportation plan and possible gas tax increase are issues that will be hotly debated once the legislators return from their Spring Break. Be sure to subscribe to Alpha News to stay up to date on the transportation plan and other legislative happenings as this session continues.