Gas tax increase, delivery fee plan heads to Gov. Walz

The Minnesota State Capitol. (FOX 9)

A transportation package heads to Gov. Tim Walz after passing both chambers Sunday. The proposal includes a higher tax on gas that would be indexed to inflation.

"The last time we actually passed a gas tax was in 2008. That was when a bridge fell and killed 13 people and scarred a lot of people's lives in the process. This year we're actually going to index the gas tax to inflation, and it's not going to take a bridge or any other catastrophe to do it, rather just a trifecta," said Rep. Jeff Brand, DFL-St. Peter.


Gas tax increase on the table as legislative session nears end

Despite a budget surplus, a higher tax on gasoline may be one of the last items passed in the current Minnesota legislative session.

DFL lawmakers said after decades of neglecting state infrastructure, they're making historic investments.

"Who in our district doesn't have potholes or broken roads? Structurally deficient bridges? We are so far behind in fixing our roads, bridges and transit systems. So today, we have an opportunity to change that," said Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis.

But Republicans feel Minnesotans pay enough at the pumps, and said the state’s $17.5 billion surplus should suffice to fix Minnesota’s infrastructure.

"Do not let a pothole on the road be the excuse that Democrats can try to convince you that they need more of your money. They do not need more of your money," said Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.

GOP lawmakers also raised concerns about the delivery fee, or road maintenance fee, included in the bill. In addition, the proposal funds projects like the Northern Lights Expressway up to Duluth, which Republicans called "a waste of money."

"We're taking trains to nowhere. We're subsidizing more trains to nowhere," said Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River.

Gov. Walz signaled his support for the bill Sunday during a news conference.

"We've kicked that can down the proverbial pothole road for decades. I'm really proud the Legislature's decided to come up with a means to fix this," the governor said.