Minnesota House Approves 20 Cent Gas Tax Hike, Likely DOA in Senate

 

The Minnesota House approved a 20-cent gas tax increase Monday in a vote along party lines, but the proposal is likely dead-on-arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate.

“We’re not going to do a gas tax. I’ve made it very clear that is not a direction we’re going to go,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said Monday, according to The Star Tribune.

The transportation bill passed the House in a 74 to 58 vote. Under the bill, the state’s gas tax would jump from 28.5 cents per gallon to 48.5 cents, which is a 70 percent increase. The bill also included a metro-wide sales tax to help fund Light Rail, a vehicle registration tax increase, and a new vehicle tax increase.

“The House DFL’s plan to raise excessive tax and fees, including a 70 percent gas tax increase, a metro area sales tax, and more expensive tab fees is reckless and will cause serious financial harm to Minnesota families,” Rep. Jon Koznick (R-Lakeville) said. “Their plan puts Minnesota drivers in reverse.”

DFL legislators staunchly defended the tax increases during a Monday press conference held before the vote.

“This morning we are joining Gov. [Tim] Walz in offering Minnesotans a choice. A choice between crumbling roads, bridges that are structurally deficient, a mass transit system that falls further and further behind our competitors in other parts of the country, and a choice between potholes and pavement,” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said.

“We have a large state with economic centers spread out. Our transit and our transportation needs are significant throughout the state, and we have underfunded them,” Winkler added.

Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, said that “transportation at its core is about people.”

In defending the increases, Democrats pointed to a report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave the state’s roads a “D+” grade, its bridges a “C,” and its transit system a “C-.”

“Parents wouldn’t be happy if their kid came home with those grades. Minnesotans shouldn’t be satisfied with their transportation system either—we can do better,” the Minnesota House DFL said on Twitter.

House Republicans pointed to a recent report from Walz’s own Department of Revenue that showed the combined tax increases he proposed in his budget would impact the poorest Minnesotans the most.

Walz defended the gas tax increase in a brief statement provided to The Star Tribune Monday.

“I’m willing to listen to [Republicans] on this, but at this point in time, there’s a need that’s out there. I showed us how we pay for it, and I’d like to continue down that road,” he said.

The latest polling showed that Minnesotans are overwhelmingly opposed to the 20-cent increase, but are more comfortable with a 10-cent hike.

The House and Senate have until a May 20 deadline to agree on a state budget.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to anthony.gockowski@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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