Apr 19, 2023 - Politics

St. Paul's $1 billion pothole problem at the Legislature

Mayor Melvin Carter at his State of the City address. Photo: Torey Van Oot/Axios

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is pledging to continue his push for a 1 cent citywide sales tax hike to pay for parks and roads, even after the proposal got the cold shoulder from the House DFL.

Driving the news: St. Paul is one of dozens of local governments seeking the Legislature's approval to put a local sales tax hike on the ballot this year.

  • But House Tax Committee Chair Aisha Gomez, who generally opposes the approach, didn't include any of the proposals in the sweeping tax bill she unveiled this week.

By the numbers: The current sales tax rate in St. Paul is 7.875%, per the state Department of Revenue.

The intrigue: The House bill does include $30 million for St. Paul roads. Gomez told reporters that an "acute need" to address streets in the capital city warrants a one-time appropriation to buy lawmakers time for a bigger debate over local taxes and funding.

What he's saying: Carter, who made the pitch to raise $1 billion via the sales tax a centerpiece of Tuesday's State of the City address, told reporters that while he "appreciates Chair Gomez's acknowledgement that St. Paul needs resources to invest in our infrastructure," the city needs a long-term funding source.

  • "We have 20 years of work that we have to be able to do," he said. "So we're just looking forward to continue to make making that case."

Between the lines: Carter has been actively lobbying the Legislature on the proposal, testifying at bill hearings and meeting privately with Gov. Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman.

What we're watching: The Senate has yet to release its tax bill.

  • Carter said he's hopeful that the proposal will be in that version, keeping it in the mix for end-of-session negotiations between the two chambers.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Twin Cities stories

No stories could be found

Twin Citiespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more