Late last week the Minnesota House and Senate each passed their transportation bills, but not without party conflict. In both the House and the Senate the bills were largely split along party lines, with most approval votes coming solely from Republicans.
The approved House bill will use $2.2 billion general fund and debt dollars to fix projects across the state that need it the most. The plan calls for $6 billion in transportation spending over the next 10 years, without raising taxes.
The Senate approved a smaller bill that would call for $1.3 billion in the next two-year cycle and a total of $3.6 billion over the next 10 years.
Republicans proposal to use general fund and debt dollars for these improvements received criticism from Democrats who have voiced that this is short-sighted, proposing that money should come from a dedicated funding sources, specifically a gas tax increase.
There was also conflict due to the fact that the bills each boost state spending on roads and bridges and will likely force cuts to public transportation spending, which many Democrats see as detrimental to Minnesota’s largest cities who depend on these means of transportation.
The House and Senate will work together to compromise on a bill that will be sent to Governor Dayton, who has already voiced his disapproval of using general fund dollars for transportation needs.
A transportation bill of this magnitude has not been passed since 2008.