The Minnesota Constitution spells out our rights, liberties, and how government is to be organized. Very few sections of the constitution outline how money is to be spent. Transportation is one of those sections, so we have a constitutional obligation to get it right.
Article XIV, entitled “Public Highway System” establishes the trunk highway system, county state-aid highway system and municipal state-aid street system. Clearly, the state’s founding fathers understood the importance of transportation to our state’s economic prosperity.
That is why I support the use of general fund dollars to fund transportation improvements. For too long, we’ve avoided the use of general fund dollars for transportation. Why? If a constitutional obligation such as transportation isn’t worthy of general fund dollars, what is? We rightly use the general fund to enhance education funding, so too should we do the same for transportation.
I also support the dedication of auto-related taxes on such things as auto repairs, rental cars, purchases of tires and auto parts to transportation. This would add hundreds of millions annually to transportation funding. The legislature will likely be doing a bonding bill next year, and it should include a healthy dose of transportation-related projects. We should also use several hundred million of the $1.3 billion (and growing) surplus to fund transportation improvements.
We’ve had a building boom of light rail routes in the metro area. We need a time-out on those expensive projects, and a dedication to improve roads and bridges in greater Minnesota.
There are clear differences between me and my opponent, Kevin Dahle. He supports light rail, and voted to fund it. He voted for a $0.16 per gallon increase in the gas tax, and for an increase in the vehicle registration tax, or tab fee. His record is clear. Light rail projects paid for with tax increases on working families. I’ll take a different approach.
My position is that we can make transportation a priority — as it is in the Minnesota Constitution – and make needed improvements without raising taxes. That’s a win-win proposition that provides clear benefits to families, farmers, and businesses throughout Minnesota.