MnDOT Commissioner Pushes Big Gas Tax Increase

The Walz administration continues to put the pedal to the metal in its relentless determination to take another run at passing a huge gas tax increase in the 2020 legislative session. The governor’s attempt this year to impose a whopping 20 cent per gallon gas tax hike–70 percent–went nowhere, partly thanks to American Experiment’s grassroots campaign in opposition.

RELATED: Minnesotans Narrowly Escape Gas Tax Increase

Yet this fall MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Kelliher has been pitching a proposed 12 to 15 cent per gallon gas tax hike in meetings with regional newspapers. Not surprisingly, Kelliher found a receptive audience at the Mankato Free Press.

Anderson-Kelliher, a graduate of Mankato West High School, sees possibilities for road funding in what she calls a “debt service fee.”

That was actually part of the 8.5 percent gas tax increase from 2008, where 3.5 cents went to retire debt of bonds in the transportation bond fund and therefore expanded the capacity to borrow.

But not so fast. Revenue from the gas tax can only be used on roads and bridges. Taking some of that revenue to pay down debt to increase the state’s ability to bond for more transportation projects sounds tempting.

Yet in her sit-down with the Rochester Post-Bulletin, it became clear Kelliher plans to use the increased bonding capacity as a backdoor way of building bike paths and diverting billions of tax dollars to green alternatives to the automobile.

“There is a real need in this community to address not only the transportation movement of cars and transit, but people want to bike safely and they want to walk safely. And to be able to do that, you actually need more resources,” Kelliher said during a meeting with the Rochester Post Bulletin editorial board Tuesday.

Fortunately, local legislators appear to have caught on to the Walz administration’s bait-and-switch.

State Sen. Dave Senjem, a Rochester Republican, said he was skeptical of Keliher’s idea.

“It’s going to bring a up a lot of questions,” Senjem said. “I think it’s going to be a little too cute too sell.”

The legislative session will be here sooner than anyone expects. Stay tuned to American Experiment for the latest on the Walz administration’s effort to increase Minnesotans’ cost of living and commute.