Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tony Cornish Radio Spots Are Out of Tune with the District 24-B

By now most of know the news, yet the whining just continues.

Minnesotans will see their first state gas tax increase in 20 years as part of an ambitious $6.6 billion over 10 years for Minnesota roads, bridges and transit transportation solution. The basis is a 5.5 cent-a-gallon increase in gas tax by October 1st ; plus a gas tax debt surcharge phased in up to 3.5 cents would be established to repay the trunk highway bonds; and increase vehicle tab fees on newly registered vehicles. Additionally, it would authorize counties in the Twin Cities metropolitan area to impose a 0.25 percent metropolitan transportation sales tax without referendum and a $20 excise tax on vehicles sold at retail. In the other 80 counties a tax of up to 0.5 percent could be raised by voter referendum and only for a specific project.

Overall, a broad approach for a long overdue necessity.

But the cries from those who opposed grow louder every day. And not just in grousing on Internet websites, but now over the radio. My State Representative, Tony Cornish, is now on the radio announcing "I was voting for my commuters this is a bad bill it really doesn't help us and I wanted a rewrite."

Yet despite his cries, Cornish is a co-sponsor of H. F. No. 2219 which would have raised the gas tax by a nickel. So, is the extra half-cent worthy of all the belly-aching?

Affecting the price of gas has not always been a problem. Previously, Cornish introduced (with potential Congressional candidate Randy Demmer) H. F. 216 which increased the minimum ethanol content from 10 percent to 20 percent. In fact, ethanol is so good for our state, that the legislature increased the subsidy rate last year. So taxes are bad, but subsidies are needed ?

Yet, has Cornish addressed the concerns of Counties that are being impacted by the desire to produce more ethonol ? Nicollet County Engineer Mike Wagner said that the alternative fuel boom in southern Minnesota creates a new set of transportation problems. Specifically, county and township roads aren't built to handle the heavy truck traffic going to and from ethanol and biodiesel plants.

Further, Lehman Brothers analysts are concerned about overproduction of ethanol but that the “transportation bottlenecks are a bigger problem."

It should be acknowledged that others do not agree with Cornish.
State Senator Dennis Frederickson (R-New Ulm) saw the need for this investment as did State Representative Rod Hamilton (R-Mountain Lake). For anyone traveling out of Cornish’s district, they will quickly find themselves in Frederickson or Hamilton’s districts.
Even the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce disapproved of Cornish’s vote stating “Although not perfect, this transportation funding bill represented an important investment in the roads and transit systems that move Minnesota's goods and people. The bill included a 5 cent fuel tax increase; 3.5 cent fuel tax surcharge for bonding; 1/4 cent Twin Cities metro are only sales tax for transit; and, a transportation strategic management and operations task force to bring forward strategies that will improve efficiencies at MnDOT and the Met Council. All of these investments are important for building a maintaining a transportation infrastructure for today and beyond.

It’s time for Cornish to grow up and shut up. And believe it or not, Representative Cornish, there are residents in District 24-B that believe in safer roads and bridges and do not like the idea of the next generation paying through bonding.

These radio spots may be an early re-election campaign tactic, but this listener feels you are out of tune.

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