Is the Minnesota House Republican caucus losing its direction and message discipline? Two recent articles suggest that the caucus isn't united on transportation funding.
In Saturday's J. Patrick Coolican article in the Star Tribune, Minn. House Speaker Kurt Daudt faces primary challenge from within GOP, there's this:
For Duff and his backers, however, Daudt is just another Republican gone soft in St. Paul. . . .
Duff cites the Daudt proposal to raise car tab fees as a prime example.
“I don’t understand a Republican asking for that increase,” he said.
Daudt replied that his 18-month campaign against Dayton’s gas tax increase was ultimately successful. He said the car tab proposal was a tactical ploy to show Minnesotans that Dayton wasn’t serious about making a deal on transportation, a Daudt priority since so many rural residents are driving on crumbling roads.
Duff also points to what he views as unacceptable spending increases and the House GOP’s proposal — currently in limbo as Daudt negotiates with Dayton — to borrow $1 billion to spend on infrastructure like roads, bridges and water systems.
“We have a large surplus. During that time we have a Republican asking for bonding, for more debt, for roads. That’s not the way I manage my family household,” Duff said.
Contrast Daudt's vision with that espoused in Mazeppa Republican representative Steve Drazkowski's op-ed piece in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Baited with roads and switched to light rail:
The reality is road improvements have not been ignored in this state — far from it.
It’s time to step back and remember that state government remains fully funded, and MnDOT crews are out in force across this state repairing your roads. Let’s also recognize that Gov. Dayton is most interested in what’s best for him and his political partners, and not what’s best for Minnesotans.
This year alone, MnDOT will work on more than 200 road projects; 140 of them are in Greater Minnesota, more than 60 are in the metro area, and some are seeing multiple stretches of improvements on the same highway.
For fiscal year 2016, Minnesota collected roughly $897 million in gas taxes, $722 million in registration taxes and $428 million in motor vehicle sales taxes. All three sources are expected to increase again in fiscal year 2017 by nearly 3 percent.
In short, over this two-year budget cycle MnDOT expects to collect $4.2 billion from these three tax sources. In the past eight years, their collections have increased by 58 percent. All of this is now being spent on statewide roads and bridges.
So let’s be clear: Minnesota’s road and bridge needs are fully funded for the next two years . . .
Draz targets Governor Dayton in his column--but stating that transportation funding is just hunky-dory, Draz kicks the legs out from Daudt's ambitions.
And by claiming that Greater Minnesota is getting its fair share of transportation funding, Draz takes away the ability to stoke a sense of injured merit so needed for the HRCC's anti-metro placebaiting.
Crumbling roads or construction projects? Daudt and the Draz should maybe pick one route to retaining control of the House and stick with it.
Photo: Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt.
If you appreciate our posts and original analysis, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button in the upper right hand corner of this post.
Or you can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.