It’s time to speak out on transportation

Published 4:09 pm Saturday, May 9, 2015

With just over one week to go until the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session, lawmakers are hard at work figuring out the final details of our state budget for the next two years. Conference committees, where members of the House and Senate are doing much of their negotiating, are putting the different budget pieces together, and they will be sent back to the House and Senate to be approved and sent on to the governor.

Peggy Bennett

Peggy Bennett

This is the time of year to make your voice heard at the legislature. Legislators on both sides hear from special interest groups and lobbyists who are able to come to the Capitol every day to advocate for their causes.

In the final week, this is the most important time for you to contact your legislators and the governor to let them know where you stand and what’s most important to you. It’s your voices — the voices of the people in our home districts — that all legislators want to hear from and will listen to as session comes to a close.

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Right now the choice at the legislature on transportation is between two competing and very different plans.

The Republican plan is pretty simple: Use existing sales taxes, trunk highway bonds, and a small portion of our state’s budget surplus to fund $7 billion in road and bridge infrastructure over the next 10 years. The sales tax changes create long term dedicated funding, something all sides agree is necessary for any transportation plan.

Our plan would help rebuild or replace 15,500 lane miles of road, and 330 bridges statewide. Our focus is on fixing Minnesota roads and bridges because that’s what Minnesotans have asked us to prioritize.

On the other side, the Senate DFL and Governor Dayton have proposed a large increase in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees to pay for their plan. A recent fact check found that Governor Dayton’s proposal would be the largest gas tax increase in state history.

Low gas prices were cited by the Governor’s own revenue commissioner as a large part of the reason for our state’s budget surplus and improving economy. With lower gas prices, families have more money to spend and more money in their pockets.

That’s why my colleagues and I on the Republican side have serious concerns about what a big jump in the gas tax would do to families and to Minnesota’s economy. Gas taxes and vehicle fees are some of the most regressive taxes that Minnesotans pay. They hit low and middle-income families hardest, as well as seniors on fixed incomes and families in Greater Minnesota who have to drive more than those in the Metro.

Republicans have come forward with a responsible, bipartisan plan that addresses our long-term road and bridge needs. Our plan is the only bipartisan plan at the legislature. Not a single Republican has voted for the plan to raise taxes, and a recent amendment on the House floor to increase the gas tax failed on a 132-0 vote.

Our plan is the only plan that includes funding for small cities like Blooming Prairie, Wells, Kiester, and Hayfield to fix their local roads. Cities and counties in Greater Minnesota as well as the Metro will have the funding they need to make sure Minnesotans have safe roads and bridges to drive on.

No matter what side you’re on, I hope you’ll let your legislators and the Governor know where you stand. You can find contact information for the Governor by going to, and for your local legislators by searching “who represents me MN” on Google or another search engine.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting the responsible, bipartisan approach that invests in roads using money we already have. The best thing you can do is make your voice heard, and encourage your legislators and the governor to support the House transportation plan.


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