Speedy veto from Pawlenty strikes down higher gas tax

(AP) Gov. Tim Pawlenty didn't wait long to veto a nickel-a-gallon gas tax increase. Less than 24 hours after the Minnesota Legislature sent him a transportation bill, Pawlenty struck it down Tuesday.

The Republican governor said a higher gas tax would be "untimely and misguided."

"I am disappointed that the conference committee did not adopt my transportation proposal and once again overreached," Pawlenty said in a veto letter to legislators. "This type of overreaching has resulted in a transportation funding stalemate at the Capitol for too many years."

Pawlenty also criticized the full bill for containing tax increases including a metro area sales tax increase, voter-approved sales tax increases in Greater Minnesota, new excise taxes on new vehicles and wheelage taxes.

The governor said he vetoed the bill without delay because he wants the Legislature to pass his transportation bill.

However, DFL lawmakers said they are looking toward attempting to override his veto on their bill instead, with the potential help of a handful of House Republicans.

DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher called Pawlenty's stance on roads and transit "a bit out of step with the needs of the state in terms of transportation."