Minnesota Report

Face it, roads, bridges, transit and all forms of transportation fixes and improvements all cost significant amounts of money. Republicans are calling for the use of some cash for projects rather than creating long-term obligations through state bonding. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) did acknowledge the cost of borrowing now was cheap, but also a reduction in the overall amount was fiscally beneficial to the state.

This money could only come from the current state budget surplus, but logically the $1.5 billion in one-time money will not stretch very far if it is going in multiple directions.

We still believe one-way to fund transportation in the future is to establish a fee collection from commercial operators based on a mileage system. Because these users of our transportation system are more frequent users and thereby create a greater negative impact.

As we have said before there is a viable alternative funding source.

Because most ridesharing and delivery services are all app-based they have an onboard GPS tracking system that can show the actual mileage rates and hence could easily afford a user-based fee system. If it were to be based on a model similar to the Minnesota Gas Tax then 2/3rds would go to the state and 1/3rd to the municipality. If this type of fee were in place at $.09/mile a significant revenue source for both state transportation and municipal road projects could be built. A study is currently underway at the MN Department of Transportation to access some of these issues. http://www.dot.state.mn.us/distancebaseduserfee 

The additional cost of a $2.5 million bonding bill is only penciled out at $200 million over 20 years and that is a very solid investment in our collective needs. The main areas being discussed on both sides appear to be around roads and bridges, higher education and wastewater infrastructure. The problem is much of these below the surface issues have been deferred for many years and we have sarcastically called for a “Deferred Maintenance Bonding Bill” before. The number of things deferred is sizable and the longer these needs are unmet the great the costs will be to either fix the problem or replace the structure altogether.

The question is when will a sizable amount of money be targeted at this problem, which is perpetual. The overall problem is no legislator has ever lost an election for not voting for a bonding bill.