In last night’s debate with Governor Mark Dayton and Hannah Nicollet in Moorhead, Minnesota, Jeff Johnson ridiculed Dayton for tackling our transportation problem head on. Dayton supports an increase in the gasoline tax, a tax that, in real terms, has changed very little over the years. Johnson said it was “nuts” to think we had to raise taxes again to “have enough money to fill potholes.”
Really? If we don’t raise taxes, where is the money coming from? Ask Johnson…Exactly where would he find the money to make up a $6.5 billion shortfall in transportation funding?
It is this magical thinking on the part of the GOP — one that does not understand that repairs, maintenance, and expansion of roads and services costs money — that gets us in trouble when Republicans steer the state’s fiscal agenda.
No one disagrees that our roads are in terrible shape and quickly getting worse. This is the result of decades of underfunding our transportation system. Underfunding, not over taxing, is the problem. Poor roads and congested highways hurt commerce and add costs to daily activities. If we really want to capitalize on our economic opportunities, we need to invest in the infrastructure that will support that activity.
Dayton gets it. Johnson — and Hannah Nicollet, too — don’t get it.
(NB…In 1975 a gallon of gas cost 59 cents and the tax was 9 cents a gallon. That’s a 15% tax on the cost per gallon. In 2014, the average cost per gallon as been around $3.39 and the tax is 28 cents a gallon. That is an 8% tax on a gallon of gas, a little less than half of what it was in 1975.)