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Transportation Taxes, Spending Take Center Stage At Capitol

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The potholes on Minnesota highways are so bad that 14 vehicles blew out their tires in one day on a stretch of Interstate 35W in Minneapolis.

It's why Minnesota's transportation commissioner had a sense of urgency at the State Capitol.

"Our system is now 50 years old or older on 50 percent of our roadways," Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minnesota Transportation Commissioner said.

Walz is proposing a sweeping roads and bridges package funded by a controversial 20 cent a gallon gas tax hike, raising the vehicle sales tax and license tabs fees.

But the gas tax is deeply unpopular with Republicans who control the Senate. They gave the governor's bill a hearing anyway -- just so they could kill it.

"In my area, it's all rural. average family's got two vehicles. The minimum it's going to cost them? It's going to cost them $440 a year," Sen. Jeff How, R-Paynesville, said.

Walz campaigned on raising the gas tax by at least 10 cents, and Democrats say voters gave him a mandate to do it.

"Where's the support? All over the place. Minnesota corn, Minnesota counties. Different residents who ride over those potholes every day. People are telling us: please fix these roads," Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato said.

The gas tax theater ended with Republicans, who brought the bill up for debate, all voting a hard no.

"I honestly believe that the governor's proposal will have a negative effect on the economy in the state of Minnesota," Sen. Scott Newman, Transportation Committee Chair said.

Lawmakers agree the roads need fixing, but cannot agree on how to pay for it.

Tuesday night, Walz is criticizing Republicans for not giving him a fair hearing.


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