Democrats around the state continue to promote a gas tax hike to pay for their transportation
proposals while Republicans are holding the line on the plan to put Minnesota in the nation’s Top 5 for gas taxes.
Last week Alpha News interviewed Frank Hornstein, D-Minneapolis who is carrying the Governor’s $11 Billion plan (HF 600). Hornstein restated his support for a 6.5% increase in the wholesale gas tax to pay for the increased spending on roads, bridges, and transit. The Governor’s plan also calls for an increase in license tab fees and an increase to the metro-wide sales tax. Hornstein had previously released a harsh criticism of the House Republican transportation plan calling it “smoke and mirrors.” Rep Jerry Newton, D-Coon Rapids, Rep David Bly, D-Northfield, and Rep Peter Fischer, D-Maplewood are co-sponsors of the House bill.
Over in Senate, it’s more likely that a gas tax increase will pass the DFL majority who voted two years ago to do the same. It was Gov Dayton at the time who opposed the move. The Senate companion bill’s (SF 87) Chief Sponsor is Sen Scott Dibble, D-Minneapolis. Other sponsors are Sen Vicki Jensen, D-Owatonna, Sen Jim Carlson, D-Eagan, Sen Susan Kent, D-Woodbury, and Sen Roger Reinert, D-Duluth. Sen Terri Bonoff, D-Minnetonka, is also on record as supporting a gas tax hike this session saying she could support a 5- to 10-cent-per-gallon tax increase.
Republican leaders in the Senate have stated opposition to raising the gas tax. Senator John Pederson is the ranking minority member on the Transportation and Public Safety committee and called the gas tax “antiquated” explaining that the tax has leveled out and is projected to decline in the future in a recent interview with Alpha News.
A March 23rd Star Tribune poll showed that 3 out of 5 Minnesotans-– who live outside Hennepin and Ramsey counties– are opposed to the Governor’s transportation plan to spend $11 Billion and raise taxes.
The same day that poll was released, Republican leadership held their transportation press conference where Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown stated firmly “We’re siding with Minnesotans on the gas tax.” When news of the $1.9 Billion projected surplus broke in February, Daudt stated the tax increase was “off the table” making the terms of negotiation clear with Governor Dayton and the DFL’ers in the Senate.
Republican House Transportation plan presentation: