Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dear Governor Pawlenty:

Why should property taxes, paid by all property owners in the county (some who do little driving) be used to pay for road construction and maintenance? We have a user fee called the gas tax. It is pretty simple: he who uses – pays. Why? Why? Why?

The snowstorm this weekend had some unexpected benefits. It is not very often that one gets a call on a Sunday afternoon from a legislator, but I got one from Rep. Kathy Brynaert. She even apologized for calling on a Sunday! Brynaert was detained in St. Paul because of the storm and decided it would be best to stay put and be “ready for work on Monday morning.” I assured her that she need not apologize and I thanked her for calling. She called to inform me she was a co-author, along with my Representative Terry Morrow of a bill to appropriate funds to the Minnesota River Board. This was good news to me also. While we were chatting, the issue of transportation funding came up.

She, like I, had seen today’s editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that graphically illustrated how local units of government are being forced to use property tax dollars to fund road construction. Nicollet County has resorted to issuing bonds to pay for projects. In fact a good portion of our levy increase for the year 2007 was to make bond payments. We both lamented the stubborn stance of Governor Pawlenty in his refusal to support an increase in the gas tax. “He has come out so strong and painted himself into such a corner on this issue,” I said. “Do you see any angle that could be used so he could save face and everyone could come away a winner on this?” I asked.

Rep. Brynaert responded that she felt it would be helpful if citizens would simply write the Governor a letter and state why they feel he should support a gas tax increase. She also indicated that she felt that GOP Rep.Ron Erhart who is vice chair of the transportation committee might be able to negotiate with the Governor on this issue. I watched Rep. Erhart spearhead the gas tax increase through the Minnesota House two years ago. (Which was then vetoed by the Governor). If anyone can get it done, he can. As to writing letters, several years ago, during the Ventura Administration, I wrote a letter to the governor every week, indicating why we need money for roads. I think I still have copies. Get ready Governor Pawlenty – the computer rides again! end

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