Editorial: A nickel gas tax makes sense

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 8, 2007

An increase in the gas tax sure sounds scary with gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon.

But that&8217;s not as scary as what the governor proposes. He wants to pay for the problems with debt, which means our children will have to pay it off. Yet some legislators want a tax of 10 cents or more.

It makes sense to pass a tax of a nickel per gallon and nothing more.

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Minnesota has let its rural highways wither for too long. Interstate 90 between Rochester and Albert Lea is an embarrassment to our state. Motorists surely notice the troubled roadway when they cross the state or head to the Mayo Clinic.

In our neck of the state, there are patched-up and bumpy highways that turn nice and smooth once they cross the Iowa border. Name any border road: U.S. Highway 65, U.S. Highway 69, Minnesota Highway 105, Minnesota Highway 22.

And they serve only as examples of bad roads around the region. The condition of U.S. Highway 218 between Austin and Owatonna is so bad that many people we know in Austin don&8217;t use it.

Minnesota cannot fix the neglected system in one season, but a reasonable tax &8212; not a dime, just a nickel &8212; will help the state repair a significant amount of bad roads each year.

And five cents isn&8217;t much compared to the price of gas itself. It&8217;s not the tax that gets you. It&8217;s the increase in demand from a burgeoning global economy.