Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen supports transportation bill

“This year, the Senate continued our commitment to another complete transportation package that invests billions into our transportation system without hosing our taxpayers in the process,” Ingebrigtsen said.

The Minnesota Senate approved a comprehensive, bipartisan transportation budget agreement on June 24 that invests billions in the state’s transportation infrastructure without a gas tax, mileage tax, sales tax, or license tab fee increase.

“For years, our state ignored failing roads and bridges, but since taking the Senate majority, we have worked to make critical investments in our transportation system to give our infrastructure the attention it needs,” Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said in a news release. “This year, the Senate continued our commitment to another complete transportation package that invests billions into our transportation system without hosing our taxpayers in the process.”

The transportation budget agreement provides $7.8 billion for state roads, including construction, development, and maintenance. That includes $3.68 billion for state road construction and $300 million for the "Corridors of Commerce" program. The bill also provides an additional $14 million for local bridges and an additional $5.5 million for the Local Road Improvement Program, as well as an additional $30 million for small city and township roads.

Less stress, more convenience for drivers

The final transportation budget allows Minnesotans to purchase their license tabs and replacement license plates from fully-automated kiosks; allows driver’s education students to take the classroom portion of their instruction online; creates a pilot program where Minnesotans could receive their standard driver’s license card the same day they renew their license or pass their driving test; and reopens all recently-closed exam stations to deal with the testing backlog. The bill also provides funding to improve speeds and reduce wait times at local DMV offices by adding more staff.


Supporting law enforcement

The bill keeps the state’s commitment to law enforcement by providing $608 million for the state patrol and capitol security, including funding to hire 63 new troopers, funding to meet the state patrol’s request for body cameras, and funding for trooper pay raises.

Cleaning up unconstitutional spending

The bill cleans up impermissible spending by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Ingebrigtsen said. The Constitution mandates Minnesota’s gas tax, motor vehicle sales taxes, tab fees, and auto parts sales tax be used strictly for “highway purposes,” yet each year the state spends about $232 million from these accounts on programs unrelated to roads, he said. Many of these items, such as aeronautics, tourist information centers, and parades will be moved to the general fund.

Keeping kids safe while en route to school

The bill includes $15 million to protect children at school bus stops by equipping Minnesota school buses with outward-facing cameras to catch stop-arm violators. The provision would likely make Minnesota the first state in the nation to install cameras in all its buses, according to Ingebrigtsen. The bill also provides $7 million dollars for the successful Safe Routes to Schools program, which aims to improve student safety and reduce traffic near schools.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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