Democrats using biased report card in push for delivery fees, sales taxes

Despite a $19 billion budget surplus, House Democrats are pushing a transportation bill that raises sales taxes in the metro area and adds a new fee for home deliveries from retail outlets like Amazon and Doordash. Both are wildly unpopular in our latest Thinking Minnesota poll, with 72% of Minnesotans opposing the delivery fee and 58% opposing the sales tax increase.

Rep. Frank Hornstein is the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and the author of the tax and fee increases. To make his argument, he cites a national report card of the states on transportation and infrastructure issues. Minnesota received a D+ grade for roads and a C grade overall. While a D+ grade sounds concerning, there are two things you need to know about the report card and who’s behind it.

The report card was issued in 2021 by the American Society of Civil Engineers on a wide range of issues from airports to transit to roads and bridges. Civil engineers design and build things like airports, roads and bridges. Civil engineers make money when states spend more on roads and bridges. Civil engineers have a self-interest in states spending more money on roads and bridges.

In their narrative on the individual states, the civil engineers favor one main solution for improving roads and bridges and their grades reflect it. Their solution? Raise the gas tax. Shocking.

The other thing Minnesotans need to know about this national report card is that the civil engineers are really tough graders. There are very few (if any) A grades. In fact, the national score for roads is a D, making Minnesota a little below average. North Dakota and Iowa each received a B- for their roads, with the engineers giving Iowa high praise for a recent gas tax increase. Outside of that, states in the Midwest received grades like Minnesota.

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The entire report card is nothing more than advocacy for raising gas taxes so civil engineers will have more projects and make more money. The old lessons of “consider the source” and “follow the money” have never been more relevant.