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Minnesota Senate passes transportation bill with no gas tax hike

This sets up a showdown with the House and Gov. Tim Walz.

A party showdown over the much-discussed gas tax will soon come to a head.

The Republican-controlled Senate passed a transportation bill Wednesday that does not include any increase in the gas tax - a funding mechanism Gov. Tim Walz has been pushing for.

That sets up a coming showdown with the DFL-controlled House, which on Monday passed its own version of a transportation bill. It includes a 20-cent hike on the gas tax, to be phased in over the next four years.

This has been one of the hot-button issues of the Legislative session. And considering the House and Senate have to pass identical bills in order to send it to Walz's desk for a signature, something will have to give.

The Senate DFL, after Wednesday's vote, accused Senate Republicans of playing "political games." In a statement, they pointed out Minnesota's roads and bridges are in rough shape, the state's fuel tax revenue lags behind most other states, and that fixing them will take a serious funding commitment. 

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Republicans have pushed back, arguing the needed funding for fixes can be found without raising the gas tax, and without increasing the license tab fee or sales tax.

The Senate-approved bill however does raise annual fees for electric (from $75 to $200) and plug-in hybrid (nothing to $100) vehicles in the state.

There are now just a few weeks left in the Legislative session for lawmakers and the governor to get this all sorted out and come to an agreement.

Earlier this week we took a look at how much a gas tax hike would actually cost Minnesotan commuters. You can read that here.

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