MVST Amendment – 60/40 Sucks Money From Roads

More big hitters are coming out in support of the garbage known as the motor vehicle sales tax (MVST.) amendment. This time it is Susan Marvin (Marvin windows) and Ron Lifson (former chair of the Minnesota Chamber’s Transportation Policy Committee).

Minnesotans have what is likely a one-time opportunity to significantly increase transportation funding by voting “yes” on the proposed constitutional amendment on dedication of the motor vehicle sales tax (MVST.).

Let me insert the text of the amendment:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to dedicate revenue from a tax on the sale of new and used motor vehicles over a five-year period, so that after June 30, 2011, all of the revenue is dedicated at least 40 percent for public transit assistance and not more than 60 percent for highway purposes?                       Yes ……. No ……..”

“at least 40 percent for public transit assistance and not more than 60 percent for highway purposes”Do you see it yet? They are putting a cap on how much money can be spent on highways. Plus they are mandating a minimum percentage of the money be spent on mass transit. Meaning that they have to spend money on mass transit every year whether it is needed/desired (by the public) or not.

But let’s get back to this current argument for the amendment.

However, lawmakers have continually used the money for other purposes, and today only 54 percent of the MVST dollars is used for transportation.

So how would limiting spending to “no more than 60%” of the dollars be much different? Yes, that is exactly what this will do. It will increase the funding to highways, which 95% of Minnesotans use as their main source of transit, by no more than 6%!

But then again, the people pushing this plan are not really trying to solve the transportation problem in Minnesota.

The MVST amendment is not a cure-all for our transportation needs, but it is an important steppingstone. As for the second step — an increase in the fuel tax

Even if this passes, they still know they will need a gas tax increase to get enough money. So why pass this stupid amendment that puts a limit on how much money (taken from those of us who drive a car, truck, or motor vehicle that we paid the tax for the privilege to drive on the roads)  can be used on the roads that we all use?

Bad laws don’t deserve to pass, just to start the debate on spending. How about this for the amendment?

My version: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to dedicate revenue from a tax on the sale of new and used motor vehicles so that all of the revenue is dedicated to transportation?                       Yes ……. No ……..”  

Let’s pass that, so that we the people of Minnesota can debate how our money can be spent every year. Doing this will give the legislature the voter approved power to allocate the ratio of highway to mass transit funds, rather than leave that to the bureaucracy of MNDOT. When they cross the line, one way or the other, we can change that through elections. But this amendment is forever limiting the money available to the roads.

The people of this state ought to control the future of transportation. Let us decide how it shall be spent, not a few bureaucrats in a room.

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