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Dayton presents two options to break impasse over transportation funding

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Gov. Mark Dayton: “I’m not willing to settle for less. It’s incumbent now on the Legislature, the four caucuses and the conference committees to decide if they don’t like my proposal.”

With just one week to go before lawmakers are required to adjourn, Gov. Mark Dayton offered legislators not one, but two options Monday to break an impasse over a 10-year transportation funding package.

Both of Dayton’s proposals raise $600 million a year for transportation over the next decade. The first plan raises the gas tax by five cents, increases license tab fees and diverts some state money collected in auto part sales taxes into a fund for transportation. The second plan leaves the gas tax out — a major issue for Republicans — but significantly raises license tab fees each year to make up the difference. 

“I’m not willing to settle for less,” Dayton said. “It’s incumbent now on the Legislature, the four caucuses and the conference committees to decide if they don’t like my proposal.”

House Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt said he appreciated that Dayton omitted the gas tax from at least one of his plans, but he didn’t think the public would support major hikes in license tab fees. Dayton’s plan also raises the metro-area sales tax by five cents to pay for $280 million in transit projects each year, but Republicans said that’s too much spending for those projects. 

“He did, in one of his offers, drop the gas tax but he did replace that with another tax that — again — comes out of Minnesota families’ pockets,” Daudt said after the meeting. “We had hoped for a little more movement out of the governor, but we’re still optimistic that we can come up with a plan.”

Daudt didn’t close the door completely on raising license tab fees, but he said with the state having a $900 million budget surplus, Democrats should consider dedicating more general fund money to roads and bridges.

Dayton is trying to break an impasse between Democrats who control the Senate and Republicans who control the House over a long-term transportation funding deal, a stalemate that has lasted more than a year. Senate Democrats initially proposed a 16-cent wholesale tax increase on gasoline, but then bumped that down to a 12-cent gas tax. Republicans said they don’t want any gas tax increase at all, instead calling for more than $300 million in state revenues collected from auto parts sales taxes put toward roads and bridges.

Speaker Kurt Daudt
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Speaker Kurt Daudt: “We had hoped for a little more movement out of the governor, but we’re still optimistic that we can come up with a plan.”

Republicans have shown some willingness to accept a metro-area sales tax for transit, but they’d also like to see a handful of changes made to the Metropolitan Council, a regional planning agency, in exchange. One of those changes is making members of the council, who are now appointed by the governor, local elected officials who have to face the voters. Dayton said he’d be willing to accept some changes to the council to reach a deal on transit.  

Legislative leaders were going to present the plans to their members Monday before reconvening to continue negotiations. Other issues, including a bonding bill and proposed tax cuts, have stalled while legislative leaders attempt break the gridlock on transportation. The 2016 session is constitutionally required to adjourn by midnight on Monday, May 23. Dayton said the negotiations are at a “tipping point right now.”

“It depends on if 201 legislators can agree to something that they don’t agree with entirely,” Dayton said. “I think it’s possible, but I think it’s either success or failure, there’s no in between. I’m not up facing the voters, but I wouldn’t want to go before the voters next fall and say we failed on the most important measure this session faces.”

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Tim McCarthy on 05/16/2016 - 02:54 pm.

    A reminder

    Sec. 10. Taxation of motor fuel.The legislature may levy an excise tax on any means or substance used for propelling vehicles on the public highways of this state or on the business of selling it. The proceeds of the tax shall be paid into the highway user tax distribution fund.


    Sec. 13. Motor vehicle sales tax allocation.The revenue apportioned in section 12 must be allocated for the following transportation purposes: not more than 60 percent must be deposited in the highway user tax distribution fund, and not less than 40 percent must be deposited in a fund dedicated solely to public transit assistance as defined by law.

    Just trying to stop the zombie lie about gas taxes being spent on busses etc

  2. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 05/16/2016 - 04:23 pm.

    Nothing Is Ever Enough For Republicans

    It is still politics as usual: but Gov. Dayton gives up a lot of ground and Mr. Daudt still refuses to concede an inch of his. The Republicans in the House – true to form – remain committed to their “our way or no way” position. I hope that Gov. Dayton and the DFL leadership let Republicans leave this session to go face their constituents without any additional road/bridge funds or bonding money for greater Minnesota projects, and no expanded broadband access for rural communities. Districts that persist in electing “never compromise” legislators deserve what they don’t get.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/17/2016 - 09:53 am.

      Not Just Never Compromise Legislators

      But cut state spending legislators as well. You want the evil government in Saint Paul to pay for your broadband? And you sewer plants? Well, the folks you’re sending to the capitol aren’t the ones who will get ‘er done. So pay for your own water treatment facilities.

  3. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 05/16/2016 - 11:02 pm.

    Heard at the capital

    The Republicans do not know how to lead, how to govern, or do any policy. They are pure and simple political ideologues with no interest in governing. They want to rule not govern. And they pay total obedience to the ideology of an unelected Republican, Grover Norquist, when who neither resides nor votes in the state.

  4. Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/17/2016 - 01:43 am.

    Why does anyone listen to this person?

    “House Republican Speaker Kurt Daudt said” . . .

    Lots of things. Most of which include some version of, “Most Minnesotans,” do or don’t support this or that because, I guess, he talks to “most” 5.4 million Minnesotans regularly, or has some statewide poll done every other day that informs him of what most of us are (really) thinking.

    But, leaving that aside, when it comes to anything having to do with money, or the best way to handle Minnesota’s $42+ billion budget (which is $4,200+ million, by the way), why does anyone think Kurt Daubt has a clue about anything related to “sound fiscal management” of ANY kind of budget, let alone one consisting of many billions of dollars?

    Some people will have to excuse me, but, personally, I’ve had it with Kurt Daubt stepping out in front of every “media opportunity” camera and microphone he can find to tell me and all other Minnesotans ANYthing about the best way to do anything related to finances:

    “House Speaker Daudt sued by debt collectors, was tardy on taxes”

    While I realize everyone but you has a short attention span, I have to ask if anyone (other than you and Minnesota media) remembers that MPR headline and story from just 10 weeks ago:

    “Debt collectors sued Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt three times in the past year over thousands of dollars in credit card charges, and he also was late paying taxes for land he owns, MPR News has discovered through public court and property records.

    “One of the debt cases was due for a court hearing Monday, the day before the Legislature was set to start its election-year session. But the sides worked out a settlement. Daudt’s lawyer, who was present at the courthouse, refused to disclose details of the settlement.

    “Meanwhile, Daudt incurred penalties for not paying 2015 taxes on the Isanti County property where he lives, and paid the money he owed only after learning MPR News was working on a story.”

    And “everyone” is waiting to hear what he has to say next? Everyone is waiting to find out what kind of transportation “compromise” he MAY be willing to make with the Governor and the Senate, as long as their plan doesn’t include anything having to do with the people who use the transportation system having to actually pay for it?

    I may be wrong — because it may be different when it’s a multi-billion dollar budget instead of the budget a person has to deal with when they’re paid $31,000 per year plus per diem — but isn’t that a lot like the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives thinking (and almost, but not quite, saying publicly that) “the majority of Minnesotans agree” that they shouldn’t have to pay their credit card bills or property taxes because the “government is too big” and already has “plenty of money”?

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/17/2016 - 09:06 am.

      They Say It’s The Same

      You are not wrong, the state budget is no different that Daudt’s family budget. At least that’s what conservatives usually say. They call it “kitchen table economics”. This is why, across the country, they responded to the Bush Recession by cutting government spending, just so they could further slow the economy and make Obama a (all together now) One! Term! President!

      So by their own standard, there is no difference between the state’s $42B budget and Daudt’s. He can’t manage either. He won’t even advocate for a raise in his meager earnings as a legislator, but he may not think he’s worth more any way.

      Please, please run for governor, Kurt.

  5. Submitted by Tim Milner on 05/17/2016 - 09:44 am.

    I will be in the minority here

    but I really not all that opposed to the basic premise of the Republican plan of funding the next road of transportation projects from the surplus.

    Tax increases were made at the low point of the economy and now, for the last 2 years, as the economy has recovered to some degree, we have seen a budgetary surplus. It is too early to tell if this surplus will continue into the future or if it is a temporary thing.

    Using the same rational, I am not in favor of the Republican desire to roll back those tax increases. Nor am I in favor of the any great programs that will have on going spending requirements.

    So let’s simply spend the surplus we have on the most critical transportation projects and see where the tax increase levels off. From there, we can make a more informed choice on long term transportation funding.

    • Submitted by Tim McCarthy on 05/17/2016 - 01:32 pm.

      That sounds like

      Kicking the can down the road. I am tired of this issue. Dedicated user fee funding a ten year plan is my preference

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