Friday, February 15, 2008

This Bud is for us

Dear Neighbors-

I’m confident we can pass a meaningful transportation bill this legislative session, but it’s going to take some compromising.

The DFL’s proposal was unveiled Tuesday, the first day of the current session. It will go to the House floor next week and, from what I’ve seen, will need some modifications in order to receive widespread support.

The current $8.4 billion proposal includes a 7.5-cent hike in the gas tax. What’s really problematic is a feature including automatic raises for inflation. Indexing the gas tax to inflation puts tax increases on auto-pilot, assuring that drivers will pay more and more at the pump without end.

The bill also lists increases in sales taxes, as well as auto registration and license tab fees.

According to a poll sponsored by KSTP-TV, 59 percent of Minnesotans oppose raising the gas tax; 62 percent oppose raising registration and license tab fees; and 54 percent oppose raising the sales tax. Minnesotans have spoken loud and clear: They do not want the Democrats’ transportation plan in any way, shape or form.

Another complication with this bill is tax dollars spent at the pump in District 10A - and beyond - could be used to fund mass transit. Our existing system turns all gas tax money directly into funding for roads and bridges. That would change since the current proposal opens the door to applying revenue from gas taxes toward funding things like light rail lines in the metro area.

It seems the new bill is a shoot-the-moon proposal, loaded with tax increases. There has been no effort to compromise with Governor Pawlenty to find a course of agreement. The governor vetoed the transportation bill last year, but instead of compromising the DFL added more to the list.

Compromise means give-and-take. When the DFL says compromise, they mean give into our demands. That’s not negotiation in my book.

The transportation bill could easily pass if it’s reasonable. It has to get past the governor’s office and I’m committed to supporting his veto if it comes to that.

Transportation accounts for the largest portion of the governor’s bonding bill proposal - nearly 40 percent or $416 million. Of that, $225 million would be dedicated to local bridges and $30 million to local roads.

That, coupled with a realistic transportation bill, would go a long way.

Meantime, please complete my legislative survey if you haven’t
already. The survey was distributed in newspapers, but also is available
online and can be found at:

Until next time,


apple betty said...

My question is simply this: how can we continue to get by without increasing taxes with inflation, the state's share of the cost of rebuilding the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, maintain quality public schools, and so on. The fact that the $416 million transportation bill is coming from the general fund is a bit alarming as well.

I back the 7.5 cent gas tax. Let those who use the roads pay for them. That is why the increased gas tax will work. I agree with the representative regarding the notion of tying future increases in the gas tax to inflation--that just doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Where does one start, Mr. Nornes. Comprimise, you know, that "give and take", can't possibly happen with a governor who starts right out of the gate saying "no tax increases." Schools are suffering BIG TIME in Minnesota. Our roads are starting to suck as our infrastructure ages. In all measures, it appears the governor doesn't even know rural Minnesota even exists. A little investment in Minnesota could go a long way in bringing the state back in the black. Something as simple and painless as a gas tax makes sense, and I support it. Most won't even notice it.

Joe on Lida said...

I agree with Bud that compromise is needed if our democratic form of government to work. I was able to listen to some of Gov Pawlenty’s “state of the state” the other day. It is obvious that it is the Governor who proudly brags that he will not compromise. I hope Bud sticks with his openness to compromise and not join our Governor in rejecting it.

Having lived in three different homes during the years that I worked in the twin cities my perspective has been shaped by real life experience. One of my homes no longer exists having been bulldozed to make way for the expansion of the interstate highway system. Another is in a neighborhood now “protected” from the noise and carbon monoxide of the ten lane interstate by a high wall. Only the third is relatively unscathed by transportation blight due to its being in a historic area.

Most citizens of 10A are well aware of our forced dependence on asphalt in our rural area. In addition many of us are, in fact, frequent users of the now maxed out roadways in the twin cities and can see the crisis first hand. years ago we chose to make the state responsible for transportation infrastructure thus creating a defacto penalty that drove all private sector businesses from the field. As reasonable as that decision seemed in history it directly led to the withdrawal of the railroads from serving most of the communities of 10A.

Since the twin cities are the business, government and transportation center of our state the transportation funnel created by this crisis there affects us all. It raise the costs to our businesses, it adds time and danger to our travel.

Clearly the next infrastructure projects must include Rail in that part of our state and it is in our (10a citizens) self interest that this happen now! Since light rail directly moves people from the roadways and does it for less cost that expanding the asphalt it is the wise and fiscally responsible thing to do.

Joe Hilber – Pelican Rapids