Minnesota House OKs fuel tax hike; governor vows veto

| Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gov. Tim Pawlenty removed all doubt May 13 about what he would do if a bill to hike Minnesota’s fuel tax reaches his desk, telling a radio audience that he’d veto it immediately.

A day earlier, House lawmakers voted 72-61 to advance a $7.8 billion, 10-year transportation bill that would increase the state’s 20-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel and gasoline by a dime over the next two years. It would increase state funding for roads and bridges by 50 percent and double state support for transit.

The measure now heads to the Senate, which is considering a 7-cent fuel tax increase. According to the Pioneer Press, Senate leaders said they would consider passing the House version and sending it to Pawlenty as early as this week.

“I’ve told them for months that I’ll veto a bill if it directly has a gas tax increase in it,” Pawlenty said of lawmakers.

“If they’re going to send it up to me, send it up to me and let me veto it so we can get back to work on a bill that will pass, and we’ll take it from there.”

Meanwhile, Pawlenty has offered his own plan for transportation funding. It depends on borrowing and sales tax shifts.

The governor has said he would support increasing the fuel tax only if voters get the final say.