GOP roads plan funds long-term needs

Published 3:47 pm Saturday, March 28, 2015

Transportation has been one of the biggest issues at the Capitol since session started in January. Legislators on both sides of the aisle recognize the need for a long-term solution that adequately funds our roads and bridges. I’m grateful for the hard work put in by my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as the governor and Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle, on proposals that address our transportation needs.

Peggy Bennett

Peggy Bennett

This week, Republicans released our long-term transportation plan, meaning we now have two very different plans to choose from. The two plans take very different approaches.

The GOP plan that was released this past week invests more than $7 billion over the next ten years without increasing taxes. The plan is funded using a small portion of the budget surplus, bonding, as well as existing sales tax proceeds from things like car rentals, auto parts, and vehicle leases. In other words, when you buy something car-related, your sales taxes would go directly to the maintenance of our roads and bridges.

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There are two key components in the GOP plan: it provides for immediate funding to address our most pressing transportation needs and long-term dedicated funding to ensure quality infrastructure for years to come. In total, this plan would repair or replace more than 15,500 lane miles and 330 bridges statewide.

Having heard from a number of cities and counties in our communiy that have expressed an urgent need for infrastructure repair, I’m excited to see that this bill has funding that will go directly to city, county, and municipal transportation needs, as well as to our state roads.

Another lesser talked about part of the plan is it would also direct money to small cities with fewer than 5,000 residents to help our small towns that might not otherwise be able to afford it fix their roads as well. Cities in our district like Wells, Hayfield, Alden, Clarks Grove, Kiester and others could directly benefit from this part of the GOP plan.

The plan put forward by Gov. Dayton and the Senate DFL includes more funding, but would mean a minimum of 16 cents per gallon more at the pump. The plan is funded by a 6.5 percent gas tax at the wholesale level, which the plan’s supporters agree would ultimately be passed down to people at the pump. That amounts to 16 cents per gallon if prices stay at $2.50 or below, and would rise if gas prices increase beyond $2.50 back to $3.00 or $3.50 per gallon.

Many families I talk to are looking for us to solve the problem without a gas tax increase. They’re enjoying the lower gas prices we’ve seen lately, and have expressed relief that money that used to go toward filling up at the pump can now be used for other household priorities or even a fun night out with their family.

Our plan listens to those concerns and presents an alternative solution that accomplishes our shared goal of our transportation needs without adding to the tax burden of families.

With two contrasting visions now at the table, legislators will have the opportunity to debate and discuss our respective plans, and work to find a solution to this long-term problem. I’m committed to continuing to work on finding a solution that can earn support from the House, the Senate and the governor.

I hope you hear from you as well; how do you think we should address our transportation needs? Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts, input, and ideas at or by phone at 651-296-8216.


Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, is the House District 27A representative.