Group meets readying to push for boost in transportation taxes

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Transportation advocates are planning to push Minnesota lawmakers to boost transportation taxes in 2014.

The St. Cloud Times reports that the Minnesota Transportation Alliance met in St. Cloud to organize their push, on Thursday.

The group plans a proposal that will either increase the per-gallon fuel tax or put a new tax on fuel receipts. The alliance is an advocacy group made up of members of local governments, business and labor groups.

Executive Director, Margaret Donahoe told the group she believes now is the time to make the push. Donahoe told attendees with Democrats controlling the state House, Senate and governor's office that 2014 should be the year to lobby lawmakers.

Donahoe indicated things could be different in 2015 with Gov. Mark Dayton and state representatives all up for re-election in 2014.

A draft of the discussed proposal for 2014 includes an option for either a new 5 percent tax on gross fuel receipts or a 7.5 to 10 cent per-gallon gas tax increase. The proposal also includes a 3/4 cent increase in the Twin Cities metro sales tax to fund transit projects and a 1/2 cent sales tax for greater Minnesota to fund rural highways and transit.

Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle toured parts of the state last week. He said he was unsure if there would be a comprehensive transportation package before the legislature in 2014.

MnDOT says the cost to complete needed improvements and make strategic investments in the transportation network exceeds projected funding by an estimated $50 billion during the next 20 years.

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