Minnesota’s top Senate Republican is throwing his support
behind a nickel-per-gallon boost in the state’s fuel tax.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Day of Owatonna also is
proposing adding a surcharge on motor vehicle sales to pay for road construction.
Day’s plan is one of several built around an increase in
Minnesota’s diesel and gasoline fuel tax, which has been at 20 cents since
1988. Along with a $125 surcharge on new vehicles and a $75 surcharge on used
vehicles, his proposal would send an estimated $260 million a year for roads.
The efforts would require approval of the House, Senate and
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, however, took a no-new-tax campaign
pledge and has promised to veto any tax increases.
“The governor would be a fool if he didn’t let it lie on his
desk and become law,” Day told The Associated Press. “We’re falling
Pawlenty is recommending a 10-year, $7.2 billion road plan
that would pay for work expanding and improving the state highway system largely
through new borrowing. His plan would give voters the final say.
A senior Pawlenty adviser, Tom Mason, said the governor has
been clear on the fuel tax.
“Any transportation bill that includes a gas-tax increase
without requiring voter approval is on a road to nowhere,” Mason told The AP. “It’s not going to get his support.”
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Murphy,
DFL-Red Wing, said Democrats are likely to propose a fuel tax increase next
week. He hinted it could be above what Day suggested.
“I’m not sure if the Republicans are willing to confront the
governor, but I think they’re trying to show the governor there is support for
this,” Murphy said.