An agreement has been reached on a comprehensive transportation funding package that invests billions in Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure over the next two years – without a gas tax, vehicle sales tax, or license plate tab fee increase – enhances state agency accountability, and funds a long-term fix to the state’s troubled vehicle registration system.
“Millions of Minnesotans rely on a healthy and robust transportation network to travel, transport goods, and go to work and school. This compromise agreement makes a substantial investment in maintaining the safe and reliable infrastructure on which we all depend – and keeps transportation funds dedicated for transportation-related purposes,” said Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), chair of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “We can fund our transportation priorities by spending responsibly and allocating our resources where there are the greatest needs.”
An additional $275 million over the current budget is allocated for statewide road construction, delivery, and maintenance. The agreement calls for increased funding for the federally-mandated Metro Mobility to expand its services to the Lakeville area, as well as funds for the legislative auditor to act as a watchdog on the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety.
In addition, the agreement finally resolves the fatally-flawed Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), including $55 million for replacement software and $13 million in aid for deputy registrars impacted by its failure. Protections for suburban transit funding is included in the budget, as are reimbursements to local law enforcement for the purchase of soft body armor. Finally, provisions in the bill requires drivers to move over to let others pass in the left lane of traffic and grants local governments the authority to alter speed limits on local roadways.
“No matter where you live, this budget makes a responsible, sustainable investment in our transportation infrastructure, and adds accountability to make sure state agencies are good stewards of taxpayer funds,” Senator Newman continued. “This is a true compromise that looks toward the future.”