Minn. Senate passes gas-tax increase, GOP calls it 'policy hokey-pokey'

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The Minnesota state Senate passed a 5-cent gas-tax increase over the next few years Friday, reviving an issue that DFLers say is needed to handle a backlog of road and bridge work but had GOPers crying foul.

The increase, which appeared dead after a proposal failed to pass out of committee earlier in the week, came in the form of a surprise amendment, the Associated Press reports.

“Failing to fund transportation doesn’t make the problem go away, it just keeps getting more expensive,” said first-term Sen. Melissa Franzen, DFL-Edina. “This is how we pay for things.”

“This is tax policy hokey-pokey,” countered Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound.

The House has passed a transportation plan without any tax increases. The Senate version now heads back the House, which can choose to adopt it or send it to a conference committee.

The tax increases were part of an overall $5.6 billion transportation finance bill, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports. Negotiators are to work out differences in the two bills next week.

Earlier in the week, the senate taxes committee rejected a bid to raise the gas tax by 7.5 cents a gallon for highways and increase the metro sales tax for transit by a half-cent.

Gov. Mark Dayton has publicly opposed the idea of a gas-tax increase, something a spokesman reiterated Friday night.

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