Letter: Gas tax would provide for good, safe roads

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2019

People like to complain about paying taxes — I get that. But when I look at all the things that state taxes pay for (schools, hospitals, parks, good roads), I actually feel good about paying those taxes. In my view, we all contribute our fair share to ensure we have strong communities where we all have a shot at doing well. That’s why I don’t understand Rep. Peggy Bennett’s reluctance to support good schools and good roads. 

Gov. Walz has proposed a phased in 20-cent gas tax to pay for road and bridge repairs. Rep. Bennett says she opposes it because she thinks it would hurt the poor hardest. Yet, she has no problem funding transportation needs through taxes on auto parts and vehicle repairs. I know that this tax hits low-income folks more as they tend to drive cars that would need such repairs much more often.  Wealthier folks with new cars would likely escape this tax.

The Rep. Bennett/Republican plan for transportation funding takes moneys out of the general fund. The general fund is the tax money that is raised to pay for schools, parks, social programs and other services that we count on. Their plan would mean less money for our community needs. And the thing is, their plan doesn’t add up. Billions are needed for road repairs over time, and this funding source would never meet Minnesota’s transportation needs.

Email newsletter signup

According to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on April 7,  MnDOT spends 60% of its budget on Greater Minnesota. It further estimated that the governor’s plan would create 46,000 construction jobs. Our area is in need of economic development. No business will locate to a rural area that is burdened with roads full of potholes. Existing businesses and farmers are hurt  by poor infrastructure, and people are tired of having to fix their cars because of  ruts and potholes. I believe Freeborn County would be the winner in the governor’s plan.

So I ask Rep. Bennett to defy her caucus and vote for the gas tax because it would provide good, safe roads for rural Minnesota, good-paying construction jobs for our area, it provides a reliable funding source and it does not rob our schools or health care systems of badly needed funding.   

Mary Hinnenkamp

Albert Lea