Minnesota approves $7.27 billion transportation budget bill

July 15, 2021

Keith Goble

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Minnesota state lawmakers have approved a transportation budget bill to provide billions for state roads, bridges, and transit.

Gov. Tim Walz signed into law the omnibus transportation finance and policy bill that allocates $7.27 billion for the next two years. Net general fund spending will be increased $220 million over the current base.

Total appropriations include $6.49 billion for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Department of Public Safety will get $516 million and the Metropolitan Council will receive $235 million.

Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said the budget bill covers all facets of transportation.

“We have every mode included, we have every part of the state included,” Hornstein said in prepared remarks. “Many people will benefit from this bill.”

The state’s trunk highway system will receive $213 million in bonds for fiscal year 2022. The amount will increase by $100 million the following two-year budget for the state’s Corridors of Commerce program.

In place since 2013, the program is intended to boost highway capacity and improve freight movement statewide. Transportation improvements include the addition of lanes, bypasses and shoulders to essential travel corridors.

Tax increases nixed

Removed from HF10 was a House-approved provision to index the state’s 28.5-cent fuel tax based on an index of construction prices. The link is estimated to result in an annual increase of about a penny.

“Senate Republicans are constantly looking for ways to improve the safety and functionality of our transportation infrastructure,” Sen. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, said. “The bipartisan budget … continues our commitment to fund our state’s roads and bridges and does so without placing a gas or mileage tax on you.”

Also deleted was a provision to increase the state’s 6.5% vehicle sales tax to 6.875%. The Metropolitan Council also would impose a 0.5% transit sales tax in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Also of note

Included in the two-year budget is a rule change to forbid the state from suspending a person’s driver’s license solely for failure to pay a traffic ticket, parking fine, or surcharge following conviction.

Additionally, the budget moves funding for programs that include aeronautics and tourist information centers from the transportation fund to the general fund. LL

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.