Apr 7, 2021 - News

Minnesota's gas tax fight is back

a gas tank with the nozzle pumping dollar bills

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Minnesota House Democrats have quietly revived a push to raise the state's gas taxes.

What's happening: A transportation budget bill released this week proposes increasing the tax by a projected 5 cents over the next four years, based on inflation.

  • Additional revenue for roads and transit would come from higher motor vehicle taxes and a 0.5% transit sales tax in the metro.

Reality check: The hike is almost certainly DOA in the GOP-controlled Senate, where leaders have taken a no new taxes stance. DFL Gov. Tim Walz pushed — then dropped — a proposed 20-cent increase of his own back in 2019.

What they're saying: DFL leaders didn't mention the idea when they rolled out their budget and tax plan Monday or hold hearings on the idea in the first half of session.

  • But House Speaker Melissa Hortman told Torey that the proposal, offered by her transportation committee chair, reflects an "ongoing need" to invest more heavily in infrastructure without diverting general fund dollars from schools and other programs.
  • She argued that the gas tax hasn't kept up with rising costs of road upkeep.

The bottom line: Even if it doesn't pass, expect to see the issue drive legislative debates and, eventually, campaign attacks.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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