Day Two: Walz Plans to Include Gas-Tax Hike in Budget Despite Voter Opposition

During one of his first public appearances as governor-elect, Democrat Tim Walz said Minnesotans can expect to see a gas-tax increase in his first budget proposal due at the beginning of the year.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to his transition office in the Minnesota State Capitol Thursday, Walz faced questions about increasing the gas tax to help pay for additional transportation projects, such as the Light Rail.

“Yes, you can expect to see that,” he said, noting that it was something he promised on the campaign trail while boasting of his decisive victory over Republican Jeff Johnson, who lost by historical margins.

In a late September debate, Walz said he wanted “to have the conversation about the gas tax,” but refrained from a flat-out endorsement.

“I’ve not said we’d raise those taxes. I said we’d take a look at them and see,” Walz said, pushing back against Johnson when he suggested that Walz had already made up his mind on raising the gas tax.

Walz’s campaign website did claim that his administration would “secure a stable funding source for transit and transportation by increasing the gas tax.”

During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) expressed his opposition to a gas-tax hike, thereby setting the issue up as one of Walz’s first challenges in working with the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate.

Tuesday’s midterm elections resulted in a Democratic majority in the Minnesota House, but a Republican majority of one seat in the Minnesota Senate, making it the only split state legislature in the country.

Two polls conducted during the campaign showed that a majority of Minnesota voters opposed an increase on the state’s gas tax, and an even larger percentage objected to using public funds on public transit projects.

According to a September KSTP and Survey USA poll, 52 percent of respondents said that they don’t think the gas tax should be raised. The Center of the American Experiment found that 77 percent of Minnesotans favor their tax dollars going towards improving roads, compared to 19 percent who support funding the Light Rail and additional bike lanes.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to







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