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Deconstructing the transportation finance bill

Gather (Raabe, 03/03) reports that Minnesota House Legislators Denise Dittrich, Kathy Tingelstad and Melissa Hortman answered questions about the newly effective Transportation Finance Bill (HF2800) in a well-attended Town Hall Meeting in Senate District 47 on March 1. They explained specifics including what exactly is in the bill, how it is being funded and what compromises were agreed upon in order to get a transportation bill of any kind passed.

It is well known that the bill will adds $6.6 billion to state transportation funding in the coming decade through increase gas tax, metro sales tax, and vehicle license tab fee. Yet few may know that the bill also includes
40 additional state troopers, qualifies the state of Minnesota for $160 million in federal matching funds and includes tax credits for the lowest income bracket.

Before it was passed, the bill went
17 revisions and many compromises have been made. Take several examples. The wheelage tax and indexing were taken out of the bill. The increased gas tax is still below the proposed $.10 tax that was vetoed back in 2005. A tax credit was included to accommodate the Governor's position that the "gas tax is regressive." The proposed metro sales tax for transit was decreased from .5% to .25%. In addition, the bill includes the bonding that the Governor asked for, as well as the Urban Partnership Agreement.

It is estimated that the bill will create approximately 33,000 new jobs, and will reduce the cost of congestion, which amounts to $790 a year for the average driver and 43 hours of delays.

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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs