Minnesota's governor-elect Tim Walz says we can expect to see a proposed increase in the gas tax as part of his first budget proposal.
This should come as no surprise to those who followed the race for governor, with Walz stating on his campaign website that Minnesota's current gas tax doesn't raise enough to maintain the state's highways, roads and bridges.
Minnesota currently levies a $0.286 tax on every gallon of gas sold in the state, which puts it about in the middle of the table of state fuel taxes, according to the Tax Foundation.
And during a press conference at the Minnesota Capitol on Thursday, Walz told reporters Minnesota lawmakers can "absolutely" expect to see an increase in the gas tax being proposed.
Walz will find it easier to push a gas tax hike through the House now that it's in DFL control, but will find it more difficult to get it through the Senate, where there's a 34-33 split in the GOP's favor.
And as the Pioneer Press reports, while Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R–Nisswa) said that while he's open to working with Walz going forward, he doesn't agree with a gas tax increase.
"If you look at the last two years, we had massive increases in spending towards roads and bridges," he said. "We can do that without a gas tax."
But Walz thinks a gas tax rise is the best way to provide the extra transportation funding the state needs, saying on Thursday: "You can’t just say you’re not going to do anything in terms of revenue or budgets and you’re going to magically get roads, bridges and transit."
In any case, since being elected on Tuesday, Walz has made a point of repeating his vision of "One Minnesota," seeking to move away from the idea that there's an irreparable divide between rural and urban Minnesota.
Speaking during a debate last month, Walz promised his governorship would ensure a "balanced approach that serves all of us," and shift away from "this ridiculous thing of pitting Greater Minnesota against the Twin Cites," on transit in particular.
Hortman selected as next Speaker
Rep. Melissa Hortman will be the next Speaker of the Minnesota House, after she was selected by House DFL members on Thursday night.
Hortman, who had been the House minority leader for two years, will step into the role vacated by Rep. Kurt Daudt after the Democrats regained the majority in Tuesday's elections.
Representative-elect Ryan Winkler has been elected the House majority leader, while Rep. Liz Olson was named majority whip.
"I am honored to have the support of my colleagues to serve as Speaker of the House and start our work to build a Minnesota that works better for everyone," said Hortman.
"We’re excited to work with Governor-elect Walz and Lieutenant Governor-elect Flanagan to make progress on our shared vision for One Minnesota."