When you walked into the booth at your polling place last November, or filled out your early-voting ballot before sending it in, did you say to yourself, "I'm going to vote for Tim Walz because he has promised an increase in Minnesota's gas tax?"
Likely not, unless you have very deep pockets and don't mind a 70 percent increase in the state's gas tax.
But that's what Walz, who was elected governor by a fairly wide margin, would have you believe. He's said that because he was up front about increasing the tax, that's what Minnesotans want.
That's simply not true. I talked with two staunch DFLers in the last few days who voted for Walz and think he's a good choice. But both of them feel the governor's idea for a 20-cent increase is preposterous. And just a few minutes ago I talked to another Walz supporter who likes him and thinks he will be a good governor. But that person assured me that the idea of a large increase in the gas tax was not the reason he voted for Walz. "I just liked him," he said.
I don't want to get into a debate about whose idea of the state's next budget — with a May 20 deadline — is the best, the one by the Democrats that includes a large increase, or the one by the Republicans that some say is on the slim side for funding what the state needs.
But I don't think we need a 70-percent increase in the gas tax that was passed by the Minnesota House last Monday that will up the damage from 28.5 cents a gallon to 48.5 cents over a four-year period,
I haven't heard it under the newest DFL proposal but during the years Mark Dayton was governor we were told how much his proposed gas tax would increase the average family's costs. And then it became known that the estimate was based on someone driving 1,000 miles per month, or 12,000 miles for a year. Let's say you're a resident of the Princeton area and you drive 100 miles to work, round trip, per day. That's around 25,000 miles a years and doesn't even take into account other trips you take, either for shoping, going to the lake on weekends, or maybe attending an event in the Twin Cities.
Sure, there are people who won't blink at paying 20 cents more per gallon. But there are likely more for whom it would have a big effect. The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently released a report showing that the proposed gas tax increase would be a harder hit for those with middle and low incomes. An example might be a family of four with one income and two cars.
Is Gov. Walz's proposal a ploy? Did he go public with the 20-cent increase and hope to get 10 cents, or 5 cents? Some think that's the case but I have no idea. Let's hope that wasn't the plan.
On Wednesday of this week, two days after the Minnesota House (DFL-controlled) passed a bill with the 20-cent increase, the Minnesota Senate (Republican-controlled) passed a transportation funding bill without a gas tax increase. The vote was 40-37, five DFLers crossing over to vote with Republicans. That bill increases the annual ffee on all-electric vehicles and enacts a surcharge on plug-in hybrid cars. The Senate transportation committee chairman said those drivers, who pay little or no gas taxes, would help pay the cost of roads and bridges. (Trouble is, only about 0.6 percent of vehicles in Minnesota are electric or hybrid cars.) The DFL House bill, by the way, increases license tab fees and motor vehicle sales taxes.
Walz's new transportation commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher (Remember her? She was Speaker of the House when the last gas tax increase took place) says the Senate bill fails to provide enough money for the future.The House proposal would spend about $7.2 billion on transpiration the next two years, the Senate bill provides about $800 million less. The Senate bill eliminates using state funds for light rail, takes away use of highway funds for bike lanes, and includes no new money for metro bus and rail transit.
I'm not sure who's right or wrong, or if there is a possibility of a compromise. I do think some of the projected $1 billion budget surplus should be used for transportation. And I think a 20-cent gas tax increase is too much for many Minnesotans to swallow
Surprise, surprise — with fewer than three weeks left of the session, nothing has been agreed upon for transportation costs. This is getting old.
The start of a 2019 Twins diary
Two years ago when the Minnesota Twins surprised everyone with an 85-win season, after a 59-103 record in 2016, a friend encouraged me to write a weekly diary the last couple months of the turnaround season and publish it each week. I thought about it but decided not to.
Now, on the morning of Friday, May 3, 2019, with the team having the best record (19-10, .655) in the majors, and even the most ardent of fans wondering if this is for real, I'm going to take a shot at it. The Twins begin a three-game series in New York City tonight and most who follow the team closely know what a disaster it has been playing the Yankees, True, the Yanks have had some good teams but, a 42-90 record since 2000? That's the worst, by a long shot, against any team since then. Teams not near as good as the Twins since 2000 have records against the Yankees that are way better.
Even in good years for Minnesota the Yankees have dominated the Twins. Our boys are 2-13 in postseason against the Yanks and have lost the last seven regular-season games in Yankee Stadium and been outscored 51-17. Those are improbable numbers and there seems to be no real reason. The names and the faces have changed through the years but the results haven't.
If the Twins go into the Big Apple this weekend and win two out of three, against a team that has been hot but is riddled with injuries, even the most skeptical fans might be won over. Minnesota has beaten up on a Baltimore team (6-0) that is tied for the second-worst record in baseball and that measuring stick is referred to when there are discussions about whether or not the Twins are the real deal.
But the team just won three out of four against a very good Houston Astros team that leads its division and has one of the best lineups in the majors. And Minnesota won the season series 4-3. Those results should count for something. Eddie Rosario, tied for the league lead in homers with 11, is in a 0-for-24 skid and didn't do anything against the Astros, as was the case with some of the other Minnesota starters. But the Twins prevailed. I sat next to a fan with an Astro jersey on at Thursday's afternoon game and he was impressed — and very quiet after the Astros took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and then were beaten 8-2.
The Twins, and other teams, are hitting home runs like crazy but a caution here: Think the ball isn't juiced? For the first time ever the two Triple A leagues are using MLB balls. And the home run rate in those two leagues is up 47 percent so far. That statistic is telling. The Twins have played lots of their games in cold weather. And, supposedly, the ball flies better in warm weather. So be prepared for lots of homers, both by the Twins and their opponents.
Hey, we're not even a fifth of the way through the season. There are 133 games to go and the Twins need to go only 66-67 to reach the total of 85 I predicted for this season. As a Twins fan since they came here in 1961, I hope the team is for real. But let's wait a month or two.
The diary starts nest week.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
May 5, 1959 - LaVon Remus had a 192 in the women's season-ending bowling tournament and in the final week of men's competition the best series was 616 by Bob Prescott, followed by a 596 from Tex McDonald.
Mat 7, 1964 - Princeton won the Princeton Invitational as Marv Top (high jump), Rick Hobert (440 dash) and Dave Kendall (880 run) stayed undefeated in those events.
May 7, 1969 - Ron Deglmann struck out 13 in a 5-2 win over Cambridge . . . Princeton won the Princeton Invitational, doubling the total of second-place Elk River as Tom Meyer set the school and track record of 4:31.6 in the mile.
May 8, 1974 - Keith Julson and Mike Solheim hit back-to-back homers in a 4-3 win over Sauk Raids, Pete Steinhagen getting the win . . . Doug Froelich won the 100, Jeff Gardner the pole vault and Jim Cartwright the discus at the Princeton Invitational.
May 10, 1979 - Mark Tadych pitched shutouts three days apart in wins over St. Francis and Chisago Lakes, upping his shutout string to 16 2/3 innings. Scott Knoll beat Cambridge 8-2 and had three hits . . . Wanda Zabel had four first places as Princeton won 14 of 15 events in a dual track meet with Pine City.
May 10, 1984 - David Fischer pitched a no-hitter and Brian Dorr homered in a 3-0 win over Cambridge. In a 9-7 win over Pine City Dan Voce drove in two runs andDorr three.
May 11, 1989 - Jeff Sipe was the winning pitcher as Princeton beat Mora 9-2 to remain undefeated at 4-0 in conference baseball. Curt Wilson and Troy Kinney each drove in two runs, the fifth time Kinney had done so in the season.
May 12, 1994 - Donna Brooks had a hole in one on No. 14 at the Rum River Golf Club . . . Nicole Schirra drove in five runs in a win over Elk River, Princeton's only win in three games at the Sauk Rapids softball tournament.
May 6, 1999 - The boys track team won the Dawn Hurni Invitational for the second year in a row despite Milaca winning 9 of the 12 running events. Perrin Warner won the shot put and discus, Tim Anderson the pole vault and Adam Anderson the 300 hurdles. On the girls side Renee Bartz won the triple jump and shot put and was second in the pole vault as Princeton placed third among eight teams.
May 13, 2004 - Angie Haehn was medallist with a 47 as the girls golf team lost to North Branch . . . Josh Dahl had a career best of 35 as the boys golf team beat North Branch, John Herou shooting a 38 . . . Ryan Kotnik pitched a two-hit five-inning shutout win over Zimmerman, 10-0, and Brandon Knoll went the distance in a 9-3 win over Chisago Lakes as Scott Roehl and Jesse Kral each had three hits.
May 7, 2009 - Jamie Engbrecht tied for eighth at a conference golf meet with a 47 . . . Taylor Murphy had a 39 for the boys in a meet at Monticello and then shot an 80 in a 18-hole meet . . . Kadie Savage won the 300 hurdles at the Princeton Invitational and broke her school record for the third time. Liz Davis won the pole vault and Katie Loberg the high jump.
May 8, 2014 - The girls track team placed second in the Princeton Invitational and the boys fourth. Anna Oakes won the 400-meter dash, was third in the 200 and ran on the winning 4x100 relay team that included Taylor Laabs, Katie Bialka and Hope Humphrey that won by 3.3 seconds . . . Princeton beat Big Lake 3-2 in baseball as Chance Parker got the win.
Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the Princeton area for 52 years.