SAINT PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) – The Minnesota House passed the DFL-backed transportation budget bill Monday which includes a 20 cent per gallon gas tax increase.
The 74-58 vote was along party lines but as it heads to the Republican-controlled Senate the bill will likely have trouble getting through. House Republicans say a 20 cent per gallon gas tax hike would hit rural and lower income families the hardest.
“Minnesota will become a very expensive place to drive,” said Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston.
Under the proposal, the increase will be phased in over four years, raising the gas tax from its current 28.5 cents per gallon by 5 cents annually. After that, the tax would increase with inflation.
“Where I live they’re probably driving to Rochester to work, that’s 40 miles one way, so 80 miles round trip. A 70 percent increase in the gas tax is very harmful,” said Davids.
Minnesota roads, bridges, and transit systems have suffered from years of underinvestment, House DFL leaders say.
“They’re not millions of dollars behind in terms of just doing the repairs that are just needed. Not building new roads, just repairing what we have,” said Rep. Duane Sauke, DFL-Rochester.
The omnibus transportation bill also raises some tab fees and brings the motor vehicle sales tax in line with other sales taxes.
Rep. Sauke co-authored two gun control measures that are expected to pass in the House. One bill would expand background checks to gun shows and other private-sellers. The other would create what they’re calling ‘red flag’ law which would take guns away from people considered a danger to themselves or others by a judge.
“I think these two bills that we have are reasonable measures to try to have our state be safer. We can make our schools, we can harden our schools and put in plexiglass and all this kind of stuff but our kids don’t only go to school,” said Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester.
Republican Rep. Davids remains opposed to the two bills tucked into the public safety budget bill.
“The DFL public safety bill is trying to limit and put restrictions on gun ownership, I certainly do not support that,” said Rep. Davids. “It seems that what we’re going through is the DFL wants your guns and they want your money. And I say they’ve got enough money and they’re not getting your guns.”