Senate DFLers stand together for real progress on transportation funding
SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Senate Republicans today attempted a political trick to block essential transportation funding. The 32 members of the Senate DFL refused to allow Republican games to derail the process and voted no on a bait amendment intended to disrupt budget negotiations in the final weeks of the 2019 Legislative Session
“We’re not here to take the Republican bait and hamper negotiations with Governor Walz and the House majority,” said Senate DFL Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. “There are 19 days left this session. It’s time for the games to end and the Senate Republicans to get serious about bringing this session to a close in a constructive and timely way.”
The Walz budget includes an annual 5-cent increase in the gas tax up to 20 cents. The House DFL majority passed a transportation omnibus bill with a similar proposal. While a handful of individual Senate Republicans have spoken in favor of considering a gas tax increase, Senate Republicans are now attempting to use their refusal to increase revenue as a negotiating tactic.
“If you compare fuel tax revenue per penny per lane mile, we’re 40th in the nation,” said Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, who serves as DFL lead on the Senate Transportation Committee. “Without additional investment, our roads and bridges will deteriorate even more, and people who rely on transit will be left completely out. Saying ‘no’ isn’t an acceptable solution.”
Minnesota roads have a D+ rating. Roads and bridges across the state are crumbling and transit cannot keep up with the needs of a growing metro population. At least 50% of Minnesota roads are more than 50 years old and the longer the legislature waits to fund critical transportation projects, the more expensive they get.
“I encourage the Majority Leader and Sen. Newman to engage with the governor in a serious way and come back with a proposal that could make some real progress on roads, bridges, and transit in Minnesota,” added Bakk. “We’re ready to vote on that when they do.”