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Ambitious Transportation bill proposed by legislative session.

The legislative session in Minnesota opened on Feb. 12 and on its very first day proposed an ambitious transportation finance bill with an $8.4 billion package that includes up to a seven-and-half cent gas tax increase, tab fee increase on new cars and a possible half-cent metro sales tax.

The bill is likely to be vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as was the fate of a similar bill last year. However, sponsors hope public pressure after last year's fatal Interstate 35W bridge collapse will help them win over the heated debate or at least gain partial success with some compromise.

Like many other states, Minnesota has a biennial budget. The legislature convenes in regular "long-year" session each odd numbered year from January to mid-May to discuss budget proposal submitted by the Governor. In even numbered year the legislature re-convenes for a "short-year" session, as "one of budget review; action on the results of interim studies; consideration of emergency measures and the result of the evaluation of the needs of the state." This current session will end in April, when we will know the result of this transportation finance bill.

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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs