10/16/2020 1:25:00 PM MINNESOTA STATE SENATE - DISTRICT 32
Mark Koran (R) QUESTION #1 The word is the state roads and bridges are lagging in repairs, maintenance and that money for any new construction improvements is hard to come by (ie: Highway 8). Do you have any preference for a method to increase available funding, or do you feel there’s sufficient money and what’s needed is re-directing existing funds? Opinions on where these redirected monies could come from would be helpful. Highways and roads for our district are critical infrastructure. Some of the greatest challenges we have is not only funding, but getting our key needs on the MN Dept of Transportations list of priorities. The way highway needs are evaluated leave many of our projects out. Highway 8 is one of them. We are currently in the process of securing the next portion of funding to continue our work to get the highway rebuilt from Hwy 35 to Chisago City. This is slated for only resurfacing in 2023-2024. If we don’t secure the needed funding, resurfacing will occur and our ability to rebuild this section will be delayed another 20 years, It’s our highest need for our district.
Now for the funding. We have been working to move all vehicle related taxes to our road and bridge infrastructure. In 2017 we dedicated 50% of the sales tax collected on auto parts to roads. This added another $300 million for roads and bridges. The remaining 50% should be applied to roads as well. In addition, we bonded for over $600 million in additional funding in the last biennium. The increase in vehicle costs is driving another Billion in additional revenue annually. I have been working personally to revise procurement processes and how we deliver state services, to ensure we get the greatest value for every dollar collected from our citizens. We have also been working with the administration to rein in Trunk Highway User fund (Gas taxes) revenue which is not being applied to road and bridges. This leakage is in the ballpark of $200-$300 million. Once we apply all the funding to roads and bridges, revise effectiveness of existing funding and creating an evaluation process which fairly measures or scores rural road and bridge needs, only then will we be able to determine if there is a need for additional revenue (Higher taxes).
QUESTION #2 How would you describe your level of support for efforts aimed at reducing production of greenhouse gas in Minnesota? Our energy production needs to balance the continued goals we all share, which is to have the cleanest, most affordable, and reliable energy production available for our citizens and businesses. As renewables become more affordable, I believe the natural markets will migrate towards these technologies without state mandates. We have to have an all of the above strategy when building our energy production capacity. I would also like to see MN remove the moratorium on Nuclear power. Having competitive energy rates are vital to keep the businesses and industries we have and to attract new ones to grow the economic opportunities for all Minnesotans.
QUESTION #3 Any ideas to jump start the state economy in the wake of what will hopefully be a diminishing virus situation when you take office in 2021? The economic impact has been devastating to many businesses. Businesses need to be operating at full capacity. To start, we need to remove incentives for not working or returning to work, keep taxes low and remove burdensome and unnecessary regulations on them. In addition, a top priority and need is good access to high speed and affordable Broadband. This pandemic has shown us how deficient our broadband accessibility is in our district. The need has increased exponentially. I have been the chief author and leader of legislation to bring better access to rural MN. I will continue to lead with policy changes which will accomplish this goal, by requesting all Federal funding is block granted to MN and re-prioritize the technologies to increase the number of homes served for every dollar spent. We will not be able to retain our residents and businesses or attract people to our area without modern high-speed broadband. It has become as important as roads in rural Minnesota.
Joshua Fike (DFL) did not respond to the questionnaire