Budget Shortfall for Roads, Bridges Could Lead to Tax Hike

Updated: 09/03/2013 7:29 AM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

An advocacy group says you could see lawmakers in the 2014 Legislative session talk about a possible sales tax increase to help pay for roads and bridges.

The Minnesota Transportation Alliance is made up of public and private groups that lobbies on transportation issues.

Its Executive Director, Margaret Donahoe, tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS "lawmakers will have started considering other options, besides the gasoline tax, to fund road construction in the future." MnDOT says it will need $30 billion over the next 20 years for road repairs but only has $18 billion in secured funds for that time frame.

With a $12 billion dollar shortfall, Donahoe says lawmakers will have to, at some point, start getting serious about raising money from other revenue sources to close that gap. Donahoe says people are driving less, using more fuel efficient cars and the gas tax cannot keep up with inflation to cover future road construction costs.

She says the Alliance will encourage Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers to consider a possible metro sales tax increase, and other options, to help secure much-needed road improvements in the future.

In the last Legislative session, lawmakers did consider a half-cent metro sales tax increase, but it failed quickly and overwhelmingly.

Other states, such as Indiana, have made the decision to impose a sales tax on gasoline to cover road construction costs. If the sales tax idea were adopted, Donahoe says, it would probably not lead to the elimination of the gas tax here in Minnesota entirely.