Minnesota governor rules out special session on bridge funding

| 9/14/2007

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has rejected calls for a special session to address funding issues tied to the Interstate 35 bridge collapse.

Despite calls from leaders of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party in the state to hold a one- to two-day special legislative session to discuss paying for the bridge replacement, Pawlenty said it is too early to worry about state costs for the bridge because the federal government is already committed to paying for the replacement, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

The Republican governor was unmoved by DFLers’ concession on pursuing a fuel tax increase to pay for the state’s share of costs for rebuilding the bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed Aug. 1, during rush hour.

DFL leaders sent Pawlenty a letter telling him the state fuel tax increase would not be one of their goals of a special session. Instead, they said the state’s expected budget surplus of $370 million could be tapped to help out.

Shortly after the bridge collapse, Pawlenty appeared willing to reverse a long-standing opposition to a fuel tax increase. He indicated “everything is on the table” when it comes to funding needs in the state’s transportation system.

The governor later clarified that any boost in fuel tax rates should be temporary and offset by income tax cuts.

A comprehensive transportation-funding package is expected to draw consideration during the regular session that begins in February 2008.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Minnesota in 2007, click here.