Sen. Jensen statement on Senate’s comprehensive transportation package

Saint Paul [1/12/15] – Senator Vicki Jensen (DFL – Owatonna) spoke at the unveiling of the Senate transportation finance bill today. The comprehensive legislation takes the first steps towards adapting Minnesota’s transportation funding for a changing landscape now and in the future, and includes $800 million over four years for the Corridors of Commerce program.

“Our transportation system in Minnesota has reached a breaking point,” said Senator Jensen. “We’re struggling to maintain what we have, and still need significant expansion around the state. In our district, the completion of Highway 14 is absolutely critical to the long-term sustainability of our community, and other communities across the state are facing very similar situations.

Every day we wait to complete these expansions is a day we fall behind our competitors. This funding bill is a comprehensive step forward toward a more permanent solution to our problems. I’m also excited for the measures that increase transparency, and will help constituents understand how the decisions to fund projects are made. Having MnDOT publish their selection criteria will greatly increase Minnesotans’ understanding of the process.”

Background

According to the Governor’s Transportation Finance Advisory Committee (TFAC), Minnesota faces a $21.2 billion dollar funding shortfall over the next 20 years for a status quo transportation network, and a $54.6 billion shortfall for a world-class system. Today’s bill provides a clear plan towards finding the revenue to maintain and repair our current roads and bridges, expand economic corridors and guarantees the safety and ability for Minnesotans to go where they need to.

The plan provides dedicated revenue for transportation through several methods:

• Gross Receipts Tax: Implements a sales tax on gas at the wholesale level at a rate of 6.5%
• Vehicle Registration Tax Changes: Increases the annual fee Minnesotans pay to register and drive their cars on Minnesota’s roads
• Motor Vehicle Lease Tax and Greater Minnesota Transit: Brings $32 million in transportation revenues to Greater Minnesota Transit, and suburban and metro counties
• Metro Area Sales Tax: Applies a one-cent rate across the 7 county metro area, raising $251.3 million in 2016 (For the average metro resident, an average of $1.30 a week)
• General obligation bonds: $567 million for local road and bridge repair and replacement, as well as rail grade and crossing improvements
• Trunk Highway Bonds: $800 million for Corridors of Commerce ($200 million/year for four years) and $200 million ($50 million/year for four years) for Transportation Economic Development
• Increases transparency in project selection by requiring MnDOT to publish their criteria for choosing projects publicly before selections are made
• Efficiencies in MnDOT: Continues to ensure that transportation funding is spent efficiently
• Establishes a public-private partnership pilot program for transportation projects
• Total New Revenue Generated: $796 million in 2016

Senator Vicki Jensen
Vicki Jensen represents District 24 in southeastern Minnesota. She is the vice chair of the Commerce Committee.

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