By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/20/2017
Hello from the State Capitol,
If Governor Dayton is true to his word, Minnesota should soon see a long overdue, long-term transportation funding solution signed into law. Specifically, a $6 billion investment into statewide needs without raising taxes.
On April 18, the governor said he is likely to accept a Republican-sponsored transportation funding proposal, and drop his own plans that increases gasoline taxes and fees, because Minnesota needs a transportation bill.
This is truly great news.
For years Governor Dayton had advocated for a long-range transportation funding plan that would have raised gasoline taxes by a minimum of 16-cents per-gallon and raised fees in a number of other transportation-related areas. Now he appears to have abandoned this idea and recognized we can approve a proposal this year without forcing drivers to pay more at the pump.
As a reminder, the House transportation funding legislation includes $6 billion over the next ten years without raising taxes. The proposal creates a new fund of existing tax revenue streams called the Transportation Priorities Fund, which uses current, transportation-related state tax revenues to make the new road and bridge investment. It also utilizes trunk highway bonds and a portion of the $1.6 billion budget surplus for additional revenue.
With the governor’s support, it’s my hope that we can wrap up conference committee discussions on our transportation funding bill quickly and send him a bill that he is willing to sign.
Speaking of conference committees, they have now been assigned for every spending area within state government. Some background: during the budget setting process, the House and Senate each pass legislation that funds a specific area – health and human services for example. If the bills approved in each legislative body aren’t identical, they are sent to a conference committee to reconcile the differences.
The conference committee is made up of five representatives and five senators, and the group eventually crafts a compromise plan that can be approved by both the House and Senate and can be sent to Governor Dayton. He then decides whether to sign it into law or veto it.
Considering we approved our finance bills well ahead of time, we’re hopeful the governor and his commissioners will engage in the negotiation process early rather than at the last minute. Doing so means we will have a successful end to session before our May 22 deadline. Stay tuned for future updates as our budget bills move forward.
This week, I was pleased to surprise Dan & Barb Massman at KDWA by presenting a House Resolution to them, congratulating them on being named the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. Thank you for all you do in the Hastings community!
Have a good weekend,
Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155