Highway 14 and other roads and bridges across Minnesota are set to receive a significant boost in funding – the first since 2008 – thanks to a new state budget passed by Senate Republicans. The budget also includes the first significant tax relief package in nearly two decades. Roughly $1 billion out of the $1.5 billion surplus will be used for these two priorities.
“Last fall Minnesotans spoke loud and clear that they wanted different leadership, and that’s what Republicans delivered this year,” said Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault). “We set early, aggressive deadlines and forced ourselves to meet them. The result was a victory for Minnesotans: we delivered the first big tax relief bill in years, we cleaned up unfinished business on transportation, we funded our schools, and we addressed the health care premium emergency.”
Republicans are focused on safe, reliable roads and bridges. The Republican transportation bill includes $300 million in permanent, on-going funding for roads and bridges – without raising taxes. When you factor in transportation money included in the bonding bill, there will be $600 million available to rebuild Minnesota’s transportation infrastructure this biennium, with money also specifically targeted to small cities, town roads, and local bridge replacement accounts. Thousands of lane miles and hundreds of bridges will be repaired or replaced over 10 years with the Republican plan.
“The issue I hear about most often is Highway 14,” added Sen. Jasinski. “Our transportation bill has big increases for Corridors of Commerce funding, which has been used to expand other sections of Highway 14. This is my top priority, and I will keep working until it’s done. We took a big step this year.”
The transportation bill also includes a reform authored by Sen. Jasinski that will guarantee MnDOT’s project selection process is transparent and fair, so the most deserving projects receive the most attention, as well as a provision protecting statewide taxpayers from paying for operating costs of Southwest Light Rail.
The Republican tax plan is a $648 million bill that permanently targets relief to working Minnesotans of all ages and income levels. Retirees will benefit from lower Social Security income taxes; recent college graduates with student loan debt will save money when they file their tax returns; Greater Minnesota communities will benefit from permanent Local Government Aid and County Program Aid increases; Main Street business will benefit from statewide property tax reductions, and beginning farmer tax credits will help the next generation of farmers get started.
Republicans prioritized funding education and put students first with $1.3 billion in new funding to Minnesota schools. This includes a 2% funding formula increase every year – a top priority of students, teachers, and education advocates.