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MnDOT chief Zelle waits for word on transportation bills

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New MnDOT commissioner
Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Charlie Zelle as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation in December 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle is keeping a keen eye on the transportation budget bills working their way through the Minnesota House and Senate. Those measures seem to be sputtering as the legislative session enters its final weeks. 

MinnPost recently noted: "What should have been a landmark year for transportation-oriented Democrats and transit advocates has turned out to be a major disappointment so far."

A Transportation Finance Advisory Committee that Zelle worked on last year recommended increasing the gas tax by nearly 40 cents  over the next 20 years, raising an estimated $15.2 billion, but Gov. Mark Dayton is opposed to the increase.

The House and Senate transportation committee chairs also support a statewide gas tax increase. 

Other funding streams up for discussion include a proposed optional sales tax, an annual vehicle registration fee and a proposed oil wholesaler tax. 

ZELLE'S INTERVIEW WITH THE BRAINERD DISPATCH

 READ MORE ON TRANSPORTATION ISSUES IN MINNESOTA

• Minnesota Legislature: Transportation
Continuing coverage. (MPR)

• Transportation tax increases rolling on in Minnesota
"Support for raising taxes for transportation has stalled in the Legislature, but the ideas aren't dead." (Star Tribune)

• Transit support: We need both a belt and suspenders
"Gov. Mark Dayton's ambitious plan for Twin Cities transit development has drawn strong support from business groups, legislative leaders, local officials and editorialists. But the reaction to his bonding proposal this week, which omits state-level funding for the Southwest light rail line, has been more mixed." (MinnPost)

• Tax dispute leaves status quo transportation funding
"Maybe next year. That is what state lawmakers in charge of the transportation budget are saying about major transit and road projects, which likely will be put off because they cannot get new funds." (Capitol Chatter)

• MnDOT unveils $1.1 billion in projects for 2013
The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Wednesday unveiled its 2013 plans for repairing, rebuilding and refurbishing state roads and bridges to the tune of $1.1 billion in state and federal funds. (Crookston Times)

• Budget bills, tax plans, guns and gay marriage a big part of session's final weeks
A big-picture look at the state budget. (MinnPost)