of hiking Minnesota’s fuel taxes to pay for the state’s transportation needs,
Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would
dedicate all motor-vehicle sales taxes paid in the state to road construction
and mass transit projects.
amendment is one of two funding proposals in a 10-year, $7.15 billion
transportation package that Pawlenty unveiled recently. He also will ask the
Legislature to authorize $4.5 billion in bonds to pay for highway work between
2007 and 2017.
sales-tax funding, which Pawlenty wants on the November 2006 ballot, would
shift $2.6 billion over that decade to roads and transit from the state’s
general fund – where the money would otherwise go to education, health care and
other state spending needs.
a Republican, said the plan builds off the five-year, $900 million
transportation package approved in 2003, which also relied on bonds to pay for
lawmakers criticized the governor’s reliance on borrowing to pay for road
projects rather than looking for ways to raise more revenue. Pawlenty
steadfastly opposes raising any taxes.
allows major projects to get done sooner, Pawlenty told local media.
if voters approve the amendment, the money would be gradually shifted to
transportation projects over five years, giving lawmakers time to adjust the
budget and lessen the hit to the general fund, the governor’s spokesman, Brian
McClung, told the Pioneer Press. The motor-vehicle sales tax now
accounts for about 2 percent of the state’s general fund.
Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, said Democrats are drafting their own plan
that would raise more than $1 billion per year from a number of sources,
including a higher fuel tax. The Association of Minnesota Counties, the
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Transportation Alliance all
have offered funding plans that are based in part on a higher fuel tax.
said advocates of hiking the fuel tax should take their plans to voters.