Image courtesy Minnesota House of Representatives

State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said legislation has been introduced that would provide permanent funding for small city road and bridge improvements. He said, “This plan is about equity and helping towns that had been ignored for far too long.”

In 2015, the Small Cities Assistance Program was established to create a mechanism for state transportation dollars to go to small towns and townships so local governments could fund projects like street repair. Minnesota already had dedicated transportation dollars going to cities with more than 5,000 people, but those communities that don’t meet that threshold had been left in dust.

Torkelson said the program has been successful, but unfortunately not permanent. Every two years the legislature has sought a funding source to keep the plan in place.

Now the Minnesota House Transportation Committee has a proposal. Under this bill, Minnesota’s auto part sales tax would be used to keep the Small Cities Assistance Program permanently afloat.

As it stands today, 50% of the auto part sales tax is directed for transportation-related purposes (and the remaining 50% stays in the general fund). As part of this legislation, 100% of the auto part sales tax would be sent to transportation, with some of it permanently allocated to small city and township road and bridge needs. If utilized, the proposal would allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to towns and townships, as well as increase funding for state roads, all without raising taxes.