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Local Leaders Discuss Proposed Gas Tax

February 22, 2019 07:00 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Local leaders gathered in Rochester to discuss Governor Walz’s first budget---proposed to lawmakers on Tuesday.

“Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan have released a budget that really focuses on three key areas: education, healthcare, and community prosperity," said Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans.

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Commissioner Frans was in Rochester Friday to discuss these recommendations at “Eggs and Issues”—a series where the community covers timely topics.

The $49 billion plan includes $733 million in new spending on Pre-k through Grade 12 education and devotes an addition $284 million for new health and human services spending.

Representative Duane Sauke mostly supports the governor’s budget.

"I think that he has laid out a course of action and shown how he is going to accomplish the things that he campaigned on,” he said.

However, Representative Nels Pierson said the budget may focus too much on additional spending.
"Those are carried unfortunately by a lot of tax increases on those that are not in a position to pay additional taxes,” he said.

Rep. Pierson said that includes the proposed gas tax increase.

"The governor is really concerned that we need to have a dedicated funding stream for transportation and transit. We believe we have an 18 billion dollar problem over the next 20 years so we need to start developing serious dedicated resources," said Commissioner Frans.  

That’s why the governor has proposed a 20 cent per gallon gas tax phased in over two years, to build and repair roads and bridges. .

"My wife and I we drive 21,000 miles a year in our minivan because we've got a family. We are always going places and adding those costs to the price at the pump is making Minnesota instead of "One Minnesota" into one expensive Minnesota,” said Rep. Pierson.

Rep. Sauke thinks it could be a good way to find adequate funding for transportation projects, which he said has been an issue in the past.
"There are a number of things that are good examples of that and one of them is right in our backyard it's Highway 14. The completion of 14 was a product of us wanting something but never being able to put together the money. This is an effort for us being more realistic and saying we are going to have to pay taxes to get the things we want,” he said.

The Governor’s recommendations will be submitted next week to the legislature, where lawmakers will debate how to best handle the budget issues.

KAAL-TV

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