Just eight weeks ago House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, sounded open to the idea of raising the gas tax—even with a billion dollar state surplus on the table—telling the Star Tribune on January 4th “A gas tax is not off the table.” Daudt still appeared to be open to a gas tax increase on February 1st , although not one as steep as the Governor had been proposing at 16 cents per gallon. When news of the nearly $2 billion budget surplus hit on February 27th, Daudt was finally ready to state his opposition to raising the gas tax saying, “I think Democrats can stop talking about a gas tax in St. Paul.” The large taxpayer surplus apparently gave Daudt the confidence he needed to take the chip off the negotiation table.
But Democrat leadership in St. Paul hasn’t heeded Daudt’s advice. Instead, they’re moving forward with Governor Dayton to hike the gas tax as a part of a $11 Billion transportation bill.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk appeared with the Governor at a joint press conference on March 5th and made it clear that that the surplus wouldn’t impact their plan to raise the gas tax by 6.5%– or roughly 15 cents per gallon at today’s gas prices. The tax goes up as gas prices go up. It should be noted that the budget surplus has been attributed to recent lower gas prices which had put more spending money back in Minnesotans’ pockets.
Minnesota’s current gas tax today is in the middle of the pack in relation to other states according to the American Petroleum Institute (API) at 47 cents per gallon–just below the nation’s average of 48.29 cents per gallon for the state and federal taxes combined. Raising the tax to the rate that Democrats propose—approximately 62 cents per gallon– would put Minnesota in the Top five highest gas tax states in the country, just behind Pennsylvania California, New York and Hawaii per the API.
The gas tax last increased in Minnesota on July 1, 2012.