While Governor Walz grandstands with the DFL’s seasonal Spring lies about pothole repairs funding by gas taxes, voices of reason from all sides of the Republican party and our communities point out the facts. Supported by the MN Dept of Transportation’s charts and the non-partisan League of Minnesota Cities, maybe this will be the year that Minnesotans demand truth and accountability from the DFL Legislators and Governor.
In her recent newsletter article “WILL A HIGHER GAS TAX FIX OUR POT HOLES?” Annette Meeks, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, noted that Walz’s proposed tax increase “would give Minnesotans the dubious honor of paying the fourth highest gas tax in the nation.” And yet the reality is “Most city, county and township roads are paid for via local property tax. Some communities receive other forms of state aid that help pay for repaving county roads and highways. But keep in mind: 705 Minnesota cities receive 0% of the gas tax.” (* Source: 705 Minnesota cities receive 0% of the gas tax - page 98 of the budget book here )
Before this 2019 session even convened, last December MN Senator David Osmek highlighted the massive transportation increases funded by the 2018 legislative session, and concluded : “We can provide transportation funding in Minnesota without raising taxes. We just need to focus the resources we take from your pocketbook on solutions, not boondoggles.”
The funding facts: “In Minnesota, funding for our roads and bridges does not come exclusively from the gas tax. Our revenue comes from the Highway User Distribution Fund (HUDF), which includes not only gas tax revenue, but also tab fees and sales taxes on your vehicle. For Budget Year 2019, over 60 percent of the revenue will come from outside the gas tax.”
“In the last budget, Republicans passed the largest investment in road and bridge infrastructure in state history without a gas tax increase, so our transportation system has the investment it needs for years to come. The Legislature invested $300 million in new, ongoing funding for roads, bridges and buses, with an additional $256 million in one-time transportation funding. We also provided $45 million in special funding for road and bridge projects in small towns and cities. With this new permanent funding, the HUDF will outpace inflation by over $100 million in the next decade.”
In an insightful March 21 Pioneer Press article, reporter David Orrick quoted the League of MN Cities “We’re all in this pothole together” message that ”Under the state’s current funding formula, 84 percent of city streets across Minnesota receive no state funding from the accounts that are filled by the gas tax.”
And today’s (April 8) message from MN GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan cites personal experience with recent county sales tax increases near the family cabin that are intended to at last repair a notoriously deteriorating road (after neighbors have been waiting 20 years).
Raise your hand if you already pay enough gas tax. (And watch out for those shark-shaped potholes!)