Mark Dayton to devise own transportation plan

Published 10:16 am Friday, May 13, 2016

By David Montgomery

St. Paul Pioneer Press

St. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton will develop a new transportation plan with significant concessions this weekend, days after legislative talks on the issue ground to a halt.

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At a brief meeting of top leaders Thursday, Dayton proposed that his administration would come up with a “true compromise” on transportation spending and present it Monday morning.

“It would be a true compromise, involving things the House doesn’t like and including things the Senate doesn’t like,” Dayton said.

Though Dayton said he would consult with legislative leaders, House Republicans won’t be closely involved in drafting the plan.

“I said it might be a good idea if everybody worked together over the weekend,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman. “(The governor) rejected my suggestion that we just have everybody sit down. … The governor’s going to work to put together his offer.”

Last Friday, the Senate’s Democratic majority proposed what they pitched as a big compromise: abandoning their gas tax hike of 16 cents per gallon or more in favor of a 12-cent-per-gallon hike phased in over three years.

But the House’s Republican majority rejected it out of hand, saying any increase in the gas tax is unacceptable. On Wednesday, they re-offered a version of their original plan, saying any concessions would have to wait until Democrats abandoned the gas tax.

“We’re just not making any headway” in the legislative committee negotiating a deal, said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.

Daudt said how Republicans react to Dayton’s proposal on Monday depends in part on whether it still includes a gas tax. Republicans prefer to spend existing state money on roads and bridges, while Democrats would prefer to raise new revenue.

The lack of a transportation deal is holding up other business at the Capitol. Lawmakers are waiting to pass tax cuts, spending increases and a measure to borrow money for infrastructure projects until it’s decided what to do on transportation.

One week remains before the Legislature goes home for the year.

—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.