GOP group targets governor’s gas tax proposal

Published 9:48 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ads against dayton’s plan to launch later this week

ST. PAUL — A Republican-aligned political group will counter Gov. Mark Dayton’s tax plan for road and bridge repairs with a barrage of radio and direct mail ads, the group announced Wednesday.

In a series of ads expected to launch later this week, the Minnesota Jobs Coalition will brand the governor’s proposal to raise the gasoline tax as both harmful and unnecessary. The group also is targeting a handful of Democratic lawmakers who may be vulnerable in the 2016 election, mentioning them in the radio ads by name that they want to raise the gas tax.

Email newsletter signup

“An over 50 percent increase in the gas tax means hundreds of dollars in new taxes,” a female narrator says in a sample ad. “There’s a better way to fund transportation than asking for more of your money.”

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a major player in the 2014 election who backed the GOP’s effort to win back control of the House, calls it an educational campaign. The group is targeting Senate and House Democrats in “areas that we think that people will be most responsive to what they’re learning about,” Executive Director John Rouleau said. Both Senate and House lawmakers are on the ballot in 2016.

Dayton and fellow Democrats have spent weeks touring the state to drum up support for his plan, which includes a gas tax of at least 16 cents per gallon and higher vehicle registration fees. The governor has said he doesn’t relish the thought of increasing taxes but that it’s necessary to dedicate billions of dollars more for long-term transportation spending.

Though the radio spots don’t mention Republicans’ alternate transportation proposal explicitly, the narrator mentions the possibility of using the state’s nearly $1.8 billion budget surplus — a key feature in the GOP’s plan. Their proposal would also redirect existing taxes on vehicle rentals and leases for road and bridge repairs, as well as additional borrowing.