Tom Warne Report, 16 April 2013
Minnesota – A group of lawmakers in Minnesota is backing away from a funding package relying on higher gasoline taxes to pay for highways and transit in the face of opposition from the governor. DFLers (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) legislators scrambled to reconfigure the funding package Wednesday after fellow Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton said he would never support raising the gas tax by 7 1/2-cents a gallon.DFLers currently control the Legislature and are also in the governor’s office.
“The governor believes the gas tax proposal would put an undue burden on the middle class,” said Bob Hume, Dayton’s deputy chief of staff. “It also isn’t a large enough solution to the statewide transportation needs that Minnesota is facing. It has little-to-no support outside the walls of the Capitol.”Dayton’s administration reiterated his support for a sales tax increase for the seven-county Twin Cities metro area to fund light-rail and bus transit. This would be the first quarter-cent sales tax in Carver and Scott counties and double the tax to a half-cent in the other five counties.
Senate and House leaders had not anticipated the intensity of Dayton’s opposition to the gas tax hike, as the governor said in December that he did not support the increase “at this time,” but did not rule it out as a possibility in the future. Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said he planned to introduce a bill that resembles the one in the Senate, and does not include an gas or sales tax hikes for transit or highways.