Transportation bill overridden


Minnesotans will soon be paying more at the pump, and possibly on all purchases, but ideally they will get more for their money.

The House and Senate voted to override a gubernatorial veto of the nearly $6.7 billion transportation bill. There was little doubt the Senate would override, which it did 47-20, but that occurred only after six House Republicans joined all DFLers to override the bill in the House on a 91-41 vote. Ninety House votes were needed.

This was the first time one of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 21 vetoes has been overridden.

Pawlenty vetoed the bill three days earlier, citing, in large part, the increase in taxes. He said the gas tax increase is too large, and that the 0.25 percent increase in the sales tax for the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area should first go before voters, as it would in the other 80 counties.

Sponsored by Rep. Bernie Lieder (DFL-Crookston) and Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing), HF2800 would, in part:

• raise the state’s gas tax, for the first time since 1988, by 2 cents April 1, and another 3 cents on Oct. 1, 2008;
• create a $25 tax credit for the two lowest tax brackets to help offset the increase;
• authorize $1.8 billion in trunk highway bonding for fiscal years 2009 to 2018, with $1 billion of that in the first two years. A gas tax debt surcharge of up to 3.5 cents would be established to repay the trunk highway bonds;
• increase vehicle tab fees on newly registered vehicles and remove tab fee caps; and
• authorize counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area to impose a 0.25 percent metropolitan transportation sales tax without referendum and a $20 excise tax on vehicles sold at retail. In the other 80 counties a tax of up to 0.5 percent could be raised by voter referendum and only for a specific project. In the metropolitan area, all monies would go toward transit.

The six Republicans that refused to side with the governor were Rep. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka), Rep. Ron Erhardt (R-Edina), Rep. Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake), Rep. Bud Heidgerken (R-Freeport), Rep. Neil W. Peterson (R-Bloomington) and Rep. Kathy Tingelstad (R-Andover).