Transportation needs reliable source of funding

The transportation debate in the state Legislature is circling back around to the old argument of the past — want more funding for roads and bridges? Then raise the gas tax.

Gov. Tim Walz wants to raise it by 20 cents a gallon — a 70 percent increase. Democrats in the House agree. Republicans controlling the senate do not.

The problem with raising the gas tax is that it’s not sustainable. It hasn’t been for quite some time. As people drive more fuel efficient vehicles, they buy less gas. There are many more people driving electric cars which use no gas. And a lot of people who can’t afford to pay 20 cents more per gallon are simply driving less. Quite simply, the revenue from the gas tax is not as reliable and sustainable as it was 30 or 40 years ago.

It’s time to look for other sources of income. The state has started to using its bonding authority to raise money for transportation projecs. Another idea is to dedicate the sales tax revenue on auto parts and repairs and other automotive-related spending to the transportation fund.

People all across the state are concerned about transportation. They want good, pothole-free roads, strong, sturdy bridges, and roads wide enough to safely handle the traffic that uses it.

That all takes money, a good, reliable source of money. Money that will be there year after year to pay for the ongoing cost of maintenance and replacement.

We hope our legislators and governor can get together to find a fair and equitable way to raise it.