On Monday, the Senate omnibus transportation bill passed off of the floor, providing new, sustained, and dedicated funding for Minnesota’s transportation network.
The bill is a comprehensive and honest plan that dedicates new revenue without shifts or gimmicks to maintain our existing network, invest in priority projects, and expand transit options to make our communities more livable for everyone. Additionally, the bill supports much needed safety improvements and upgrades to the state’s rail network as increased demand and pressure has sharply increased freight rail volume.
Some highlights of the Finance Bill:
- Gross Receipts Tax of 6.5% at the wholesale level constitutionally dedicated to the Highway User Tax Distribution Fund – raising approximately $787 million over the biennium dedicated to maintaining and repairing the state’s roads.
- Vehicle Registration Tax increase to 1.5% while increasing the base tax to $20 in 2018 and adding a late fee to $25 a month capped at $100 – raising approximately $195 million over the biennium. Additional fees raising approximately $128 million over the biennium to help ensure stability in funding our transportation network.
- Metro Transit Sales Tax increase from ¼ cent to 1 cent sales tax in 7 metro counties – dedicated to expanding bus services by at least 4% annually and ensuring everyone’s transportation needs are met.
- This increased funding will allow the state to take on more bonding capacity, allowing an additional $800 million for the Corridors of Commerce program over the next four years. This program has funded projects across the state, and would continue to connect Minnesota’s regional centers.
- An additional $200 million for Transportation and Economic Development (TED) bonding, with an increased capacity for Trunk Highway Bonding.
- The bill invests $32.5 million annually to make safety upgrades and improvements to the state’s existing rail network where crude oil and other hazardous materials are transported and creates an Office of Rail Safety at MnDOT.
- Outlines numerous provisions requiring MnDOT to increase efficiency in their operations, saving taxpayer’s money without sacrificing results.
- “Driver’s License for All” allowing undocumented individuals to obtain a Minnesota driving license.
- Creates an Active Transportation Program that will target funding for bicycle, trail, and pedestrian infrastructure in the Metro and Greater Minnesota.
The bill addresses long-term transportation funding without taking money from other priorities, and will help the state create a 21st century transportation network that supports the growing demands of our aging transportation network.
The House plan relies on general fund shifts and gimmicks that put other priorities like early education, services for our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and efforts to keep tuition costs low for students at jeopardy.
The bill passed 36-27. (H.F. 4)