State Representative Backer on Transportation Plan 24 Feb 16

Ahead of this Friday’s February Budget Forecast, Representative Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, is urging support for a long-term transportation plan that would invest $7 billion in state roads and bridges over the next 10 years without an increase in the gas tax. In total, the plan would repair or replace more than 15,500 lane miles of road and 330 bridges statewide.

“As I have traveled across the district, I consistently hear from constituents about the need to improve our roads and bridges,” said Backer. “Our plan not only makes significant investments in our transportation infrastructure, it does so without implementing a harmful gas tax increase.”

Over the next ten years, the Republican proposal invests:

$4.03 billion for state roads
$1.44 billion for county roads
$583 million for municipal roads
$282 million for small cities under 5,000
$139 million for Greater Minnesota bus services
$60 million for township roads & bridges

The Republican proposal creates a special fund called the Transportation Stability Fund that collects existing proceeds from dedicated tax revenues and deposits them into accounts for each of their dedicated purpose. There are five accounts that would dedicate a combined $3.078 billion over ten years:

1. Road and Bridge Account – revenue from existing sales tax on auto parts
2. Metro Capital Improvements Account – revenue from existing sales tax on rental vehicles
3. Small Cities Account – revenue from existing rental vehicle tax
4. Greater Minnesota Bus Services Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax
5. Suburban County Highway Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax

In addition to the dedicated funds provided by the Transportation Stability Fund, the Republican proposal uses $1.3 billion in Trunk Highway bonds, $1.2 billion from realigning Minnesota Department of Transportation resources, $1.05 billion in General Obligation bonds, and $228 million in General Funds.

Expanding funding for the Small Cities Program is a major component of the GOP plan. The program resulted in $473,860 in small cities funding for District 12A last year. Under the GOP plan, cities in District 12A would receive additional small cities funding in the coming year.

“One of the key components of our plan was these additional funds for small cities to use towards pothole repair and other improvements,” said Backer. “Upwards of 35 cities in our district qualified for this program and I am hopeful that we will be able to build on this success in the coming session.”

Legislators are also working to pass a tax bill this upcoming session and Rep. Backer will continue to advocate for significant tax relief in the event of a large budget surplus.

The 2016 session is set to begin on March 08, 2016.