The opening shots in the 2015 transportation debate have now been fired. Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) introduced a comprehensive transportation bill, SF87, on Monday. The proposal is outlined in this Senate DFL press release.

The Senate bill provides for $795 million in new revenues for 2016, increasing to $1.125 billion by 2019. New revenues come from a “gross receipts tax” on all motor vehicle fuels, an increase in vehicle registration tabs, a reallocation of the motor vehicle leasing sales tax and a metro transit sales tax increase. The gross receipts tax on all motor vehicle fuels is a wholesale sales tax. The gross receipts tax rate will be set once a year and will be the greater of $0.10 or 6.5% of the prior fiscal year’s average wholesale gasoline price. The rate will be set on Aug. 1 and applied from Oct. 1 of that year to the following Sept. 30.

The Senate bill appropriates $800 million in trunk highway bond proceeds to the Corridors of Commerce fund to be paid out $200 million each year for four years. There is no cash appropriation for Corridors of Commerce in the bill.

For Greater Minnesota transit, the bill channels 50% of the motor vehicle sales tax receipts and appropriates $16 million of general fund dollars. The bill also dedicates federal transportation funds for a competitive grant program for Greater Minnesota transportation alternatives projects.

Other provisions in the bill include a change in the allocation of the 5% set-aside, efficiency measures, street improvement districts, a change to cost participation policy and asking the commissioner to create a project selection process. As debate on the bill progresses, we will monitor how this affects the allocation of funds to Greater Minnesota and work to ensure that transportation spending is allocated equitably across the whole state.

Last week, the House Republicans announced their plan to fund transportation for a total of $750 million, which is a small increase funded by the state surplus, truck highway funds and department efficiencies. For a comparison of the House Republican and Senate DFL proposals, read this article by MinnPost.