When it comes to funding for roads and bridges, Minnesota voters might have a say this November on how to fund transportation.
Last week a hearing was held on a bill in the House that proposes to amend the states constitution to dedicate sales tax revenues from motor vehicle repair and replacement parts towards road and bridge projects.
Representative Clark Johnson (D-North Mankato) sits on the Transportation Finance Committee and says the proposal could mean less money for other priorities in the state’s budget, like health care and education.
“It’s particularly important to rural Minnesota because we just don’t have the property tax base. In much of rural Minnesota, if we have to increase funding for schools with the local option, we don’t have much to work with. So, I can’t support it at this point. If they want to dedicate the money, I understand what they’re trying to do, but I wish they would back-fill so the general fund wasn’t impacted.”
Under current law, tax revenues generated through auto repairs and sales of auto parts go into the state’s General Fund. Meanwhile, the main chunk of the state’s transportation budget is made up of revenues from dedicated funding sources like the gas tax and funding from the federal government.
“I’ve been the author of a bill to increase the gas tax to really fund it the way we have traditionally. What happened is in the no new taxes era, people would just refuse to vote for any kind of a tax increase. Well what happened was we also had higher mileage cars, so people are probably less in gas tax today, in real dollars, than we were 30 years ago.”
If passed by voters, the amendment would go into effect on July 1, 2020.
Of the revenue collected, 95.5-percent would go towards the Highway User Tax Distribution Fund, with the remaining 4.5-percent being directed to the Small Cities Assistance Program to fund local road projects.