Gas tax hike and sales tax for transit get scrapped

DFL legislative leaders say plans to raise the gas tax for road projects and a metrowide sales tax for transit projects are dead for the year.

“I would say they’re probably both dead,” said DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.

Senate leaders have been pushing to increase the gas tax to pay for additional road and bridge projects. But historically high gas prices and opposition from Governor Dayton has proved too big of an obstacle.

DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen suggested there was discomfort in raising gas and sales taxes at a time when they’re also raising other taxes to balance the budget and spend more on schools.

“There’s no question that we have transportation infrastructure problems that we need to take on,” Thissen said. “We’re going to be doing huge education investments this year that are going to make a huge difference, property tax relief, investments in jobs and a number of other issues. There’s only so many things that you can do in a single session.”

Transportation advocates say a higher gas tax and a sales tax for transit are needed to help the state keep pace with its transportation needs.

Gov. Dayton says he wants to create a statewide conversation over the next year to discuss the transportation needs of the state.