Around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Governor Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Melissa Hortman emerged from their negotiating room to announce they had reached a deal on global budget targets. Notably, the gas tax increase and other transportation funding increases Governor Walz and the House DFL were seeking are not part of the final budget deal, meaning that transportation will receive no funding increases this year.
What does this mean for Highway 14?
The lack of new transportation funding in the budget is a setback for Highway 14’s short-term prospects. The best chance of achieving progress on Highway 14 between Nicollet and New Ulm this session was to increase transportation funding and make significant investments through the Corridors of Commerce program. Now that leaders have settled on a deal with no new funding, those investments are less likely to be possible.
Moreover, the Highway 14 Partnership was already seriously concerned about the Senate’s transportation proposal, which would cut the $25 million per year appropriation to Corridors of Commerce that was originally passed back in 2017. With no new transportation funding, we need to work even harder to resist these cuts.
What Highway 14 members can do
Because the budget deal was reached with just one day left in the legislative session, a special session will be needed to work out the details of the bills and pass them off the House and Senate floors. The Transportation Conference Committee will be tasked with working out those details, and things will now move extremely fast.
If you have not done so already, contact House and Senate Conferees as soon as possible. Urge them to continue to fund the Corridors of Commerce program at $25M/per year in trunk highway cash, not cut the program like the Senate proposed. CLICK HERE to email the conferees and urge them to fund Corridors of Commerce.