Funding for MN Road Repair Lacking, Candidates Weigh In
Posted at: 10/18/2012 10:29 PM
| Updated at: 10/18/2012 10:49 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
A transportation advocacy group says the quality of Minnesota roads is at risk in the coming decades. The group say the cost of fixing the roads is growing every year, but funding isn't increasing.
In a forum at Duluth's city hall Thursday afternoon, candidates running in six different races for House and Senate discussed how that money should be raised. But before they offered their solutions, Margaret Donahoe, the Executive Director of the Transportation Alliance, told those candidates, and community members, more on the expected problem.
"In a lot of cases we're talking about, we can't even maintain the system we have today," Donahoe said. "We just don't have enough money to really do a good job of rebuilding the roads that we have."
Over the next 20 years, Donahoe said the Minnesota Department of Transportation will need $2.7 billion to maintain and keep northeastern Minnesota infrastructure, like roads, safe. But she said projected revenue over that same time period is a much less $1.5 billion.
In the following forum, Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Duluth, said she'd be okay with a higher tax on gas. "Not if it's by itself. But if it's part of a total solution, yes," Murphy said.
According to Donahoe, the current tax on a gallon of gas in Minnesota now, is 28 1/2 cents. She said in 2011, taxes on gasoline totaled $846 million. Taxes on tabs raised $557 million, and the motor vehicle sales tax brought in $276 million.
In the House District 3B race, Murphy's challenger, Keith MacDonald, a Republican and former Hermantown mayor, said the gas tax should stay where it is.
MacDonald told Eyewitness News revenue will grow along with the economy. "I think we need to just let the economy take off again and try to hold the line on taxes."
A Mn/DOT engineer compared road maintenance in northeastern Minnesota to changing the oil in your car. He said it just has to be done a little more often here than in the rest of the state.