by PEDER MEWIS
TO STATE SEN. DAVID OSMEK
The week of Feb. 20, in a Joint House and Senate Transportation Finance Committee, legislators heard testimony on a new transportation finance package brought forth by the Move MN Coalition that includes an increase in the seven-county metro sales tax and a new 5 percent sales tax on fuel at the wholesale level.
“Adding a brand new 5 percent sales tax on fuel at the whole sale level equates to a 15 cents gas tax increase on a $3 wholesale gallon of gasoline and will undoubtedly be passed on to the consumer,” said David Osmek, state senator for District 33. “Even more insidious is the fact that, as gasoline prices increase, so will the tax, creating a compounding effect. Whether that’s a residential customer, a trucker, it doesn’t matter who it is, we all pay more.”
The current metro sales tax increase, designed to be exclusively for “transit,” would increase 300 percent and would be imposed on the entire seven-county metro area. The Move MN proposal would also remove opt-out provisions that counties currently control.
“This massive increase in the metrowide sales tax will do little to nothing to help people who commute to jobs or move goods and services in the metro. It also usurps local control of our counties, forcing Carver and Scott counties to participate in a program that they will receive next to no benefits from,” Osmek said. “The new metrowide sales tax would drive some of our total sales tax burden to over 8.5 percent, making it one of the highest in the region.”
Sen. Osmek is drafting legislation to offer an alternative to these historic increases. Rather than create new taxes for new revenue streams, he will author a bill that directs transportation funding to be used for essential transportation projects and require the Minnesota Department of Transportation to comply with the efficiency standards agreed upon during the 2008 legislative session.
“We have the money,” Osmek said. “Before creating new taxes or jacking them up 300 percent, let’s make sure our transportation dollars are focused on actual transportation solutions.”
Move MN is a coalition of transportation advocates looking to secure a comprehensive transportation funding package during the 2014 legislative session.
Sen. Osmek encourages constituent input and can be reached by phone at 651-296-1282, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org at by mail at 19 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55115.