DALLAS -- The latest two transportation funding measures proposed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton rely on $2 billion of new road bonds, but give lawmakers the option of increasing the state gasoline tax to fund a 10-year $9 billion infrastructure program.
Dayton outlined each of the proposals in private sessions on Monday with state House Speaker Kurt Daudt, a Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk from the Democratic-Farm-Labor Party.
Each includes $2 billion of state trunk highway bonds, which can only be used to finance projects on Minnesota's 12,000-mile network of interstates and major state highways.
The twin proposals are an effort to resolve a legislative traffic jam and pass a multiyear highway bill before the 2016 legislative session ends at midnight on Monday, Dayton said.
"Compromise requires us to agree to things we don't agree with," he said. "That is the only way to pass a transportation funding bill this session. Minnesotans everywhere need better highways, roads, bridges, and transit. They are telling us to 'Get it done.'"
Both of Dayton's latest options would generate $8.8 billion over 10 years. The annual funding includes $600 million per year for state roads and $280 million per year for public transit in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area from a new regional 0.5% sales tax.
Dayton's proposed 5 cent increase in the state gasoline tax would generate an additional $150 million per year.
Both options include an increase in the annual state vehicle registration fee. The proposal that includes the gas tax hike contains less of a fee increase that would bring in an additional $250 million per year. A higher increase in the fee would be levied to generate $400 million per year without an increase in the fuel tax.
"I'm not wedded to these numbers," Dayton said. "I'm wedded to $600 million [for state roads]. There's no one else who's going to pay for improving our transportation system except for all of us."
A compromise on transportation funding could be accomplished by the end of the week even though Republicans are opposed to Dayton's proposal for higher registration fees and the transit sales tax, Daudt said.
"He did, in one of his offers, drop the gas tax but he did replace that with another tax that again comes out of Minnesota families' pockets," Daudt said after Monday's meeting. "We had hoped for a little more movement out of the governor, but we're still optimistic that we can come up with a plan."
The Democratic majority in the state Senate backs a plan that would raise the state's 28.5 cents per gallon tax on both gasoline and diesel by 12 cents to fund transportation projects. The Democratic plan includes $1 billion of state highway bonds and $567 million of state general obligation bonds for local road and bridge projects.
A transportation plan supported by state House Republicans would provide $7 billion for highway and transit needs over 10 years without a gasoline tax increase. The House proposal includes $1.3 billion of state highway bonds and $1 billion of state GO bonds.
Republicans hold the House, with 73 of the 134 seats. The DFL controls the Senate with 39 of the 67 seats. Dayton is a Democrat.
Lawmakers that refuse to compromise on a funding plan will have to defend their decision to voters in November, Dayton said. All 201 legislative seats are up for election this year.
"I think it's either success or failure, there's no in between," he said. "I wouldn't want to go before the voters and say we failed on the most important measure this session faces."