On Browns Valley Republican lawmaker Jeff Backer's personal Facebook page, Backer backer Allen E. Anderson shares a post from the Taxpayers League expressing outrage about about the departure of the Car2Go car-sharing service from the Twin Cities market:
"Car rental taxes are an easy target for politicians because they only affect visitors, not residents, right? Wrong. Short term rental services have sprung up, catering to downtown residents and others who don't need or want the cost and upkeep of owning a vehicle. But the service couldn't survive with the high rental car taxes plus the high local taxes and fees in the twin cities. It was a double whammy. So Car2go will be gone by the end of the year."
The TP League shares the St. Paul Pioneer Press article, All those little Car2go cars will disappear by year’s end. Here’s why.
Anderson adds the headnote: "interesting maybe something that could be fixed in the legislative session."
That might be a little--how do we say?--awkward, given that Representative Jeff Backer favors the Minnesota Republican caucus transportation plan, or so he told Morris's KMRS-KKOK Radio in February's State Representative Backer on Transportation Plan:
Ahead of this Friday’s February Budget Forecast, Representative Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, is urging support for a long-term transportation plan that would invest $7 billion in state roads and bridges over the next 10 years without an increase in the gas tax. In total, the plan would repair or replace more than 15,500 lane miles of road and 330 bridges statewide.
“As I have traveled across the district, I consistently hear from constituents about the need to improve our roads and bridges,” said Backer. “Our plan not only makes significant investments in our transportation infrastructure, it does so without implementing a harmful gas tax increase.”
Over the next ten years, the Republican proposal invests:
$4.03 billion for state roads
$1.44 billion for county roads
$583 million for municipal roads
$282 million for small cities under 5,000
$139 million for Greater Minnesota bus services
$60 million for township roads & bridges
The Republican proposal creates a special fund called the Transportation Stability Fund that collects existing proceeds from dedicated tax revenues and deposits them into accounts for each of their dedicated purpose. There are five accounts that would dedicate a combined $3.078 billion over ten years:
1. Road and Bridge Account – revenue from existing sales tax on auto parts
2. Metro Capital Improvements Account – revenue from existing sales tax on rental vehicles
3. Small Cities Account – revenue from existing rental vehicle tax
4. Greater Minnesota Bus Services Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax
5. Suburban County Highway Account – revenue from 50% of existing Motor Vehicle Lease sales tax
Backer repeated his support for using existing car rental taxes for the Small Cities Account in a March 2016 legislative update. Nice of him and his conservative colleagues to grab those high rental taxes from an urban car service and other rentals to pay "for street and road repair over the next ten years for communities that have less than 5,000 residents."
Predictably, conservatives in the PiPress's comment section are blaming the rental vehicle tax on those darned liberals, while the intern who wrote the article doesn't seem to have thought to mention that redirecting the tax from general revenues to the proposed "Transportation Stability Fund" is a key feature of the Republicans' avoidance of raising the gas tax.
Perhaps they could save Car2Go and lower or eliminate the vehicle rental tax--but then Backer and his pals have to find another money pot somewhere to rob for the the Metro Capital Improvements Account and the Small Cities Account.
What additional programs paid out of general funds (diverted under to the plan to the new fund) will get the axe? Mental health funding? Local government aid? Daycare for the children of the working poor? The possibilities are endless--but we doubt the legislators' mileage requests will be in play.
Screengrab: We must say, politicians like those in the Minnesota House Republican Caucus most certainly did find the pot o' money collected with car rental taxes to be an easy target when proposing to raise more money for roads and bridges while not raising gas taxes. Cough.
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