A political group that backs conservative candidates is using the legislative fight over a new gas tax to target a handful of DFL Senators and Representatives up for re-election in 2016.
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition radio ad talks about a DFL effort to increase the gas tax to pay for $6 billion in road and bridge construction. Here’s an excerpt from an ad running in DFL Sen. Lyle Koenen’s district near Clara City.
“Gas prices are down, and our economy is starting rebound. But Democrats like Lyle Koenen want to make gas more expensive and raise taxes. An over 50 percent increase in the gas tax means hundreds of dollars in new taxes.”
The Jobs Coalition ad is essentially correct.
Right now, people pay 28.5 cents per gallon gas tax, and that money is used exclusively for road and bridge construction.
Gov. Mark Dayton, transportation officials, Senate DFLers – including Koenen – and a host of transportation interests argue that the current gas tax isn’t cutting it. People are driving less and cars have become more efficient, so the state is bringing in less and less revenue every year from the existing gas tax, which is levied on a per gallon basis.
Dayton and others are pushing for an additional gas sales tax at the wholesale level to pay for an additional $6 billion in road and bridge construction over the next ten years.
The DFL-backed transportation plan includes a minimum 16 cent gas tax increase. That means people would pay a total of 44.5 cents in gas taxes if it was adopted.
That’s a more than 50 percent increase in the gas tax, as the Minnesota Jobs Coalition’s ad claims – 56 percent to be precise.
The other question is whether Koenen specifically supports a gas tax increase.
He said he does and that he doesn’t think “16 cents is too out of line.”
But while Koenen says he will vote for the Senate bill, it’s with the understanding that there will be negotiations will the House.
Koenen said that if he had his way, “I would start a little easier and then phase [the gas tax] in over a few years so the whole increase wouldn’t come all at once.”
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition’s radio spot is mostly accurate, though it leaves out some nuances in Koenen’s position on the proposed gas tax.
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