26 February 2008

Bridges and Vetos

House and Senate override governor's veto

A $6.6 billion transportation bill is now law after both the Minnesota House and Senate voted for the first time to override a veto from Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The House voted 91-41 to override the governor's veto, and the Minnesota Senate followed shortly after by a vote of 47-20.

The Minnesota State House and Senate passed a ¢5 per gallon increase in the gas tax to pay for an increase in the transportation budget. But Pawlenty took a "No New Taxes" pledge before he was elected and, while he has increased "fees" on tobacco, he stood by his tax pledge and vetoed the bill. But everyone with any memory voted to over ride the veto, because we had an effin bridge fall into the river and people DIED!

If I seem a tad bit worked up over this, thats because I am.

I honestly don't understand why Pawlenty did this. The bridge collapsed, and he vetoed a bill to help pay for the replacement, upkeep and maintainence of other bridges in the state. Plus other road repairs and some public transit. For ¢5 more per gallon. ¢5.

He must really want to be the most anti-tax governor out there to veto this. I can't think of an analogy that fully conveys the stupidity of vetoing a small tax to pay for something with such emotional appeal. (And how often is there an emotional appeal to infrastructure?) He should just eat some puppies and get it over with.

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, questioned some of the first-term Democrats on the floor about whether they campaigned for a tax increase last election.

"You folks, again did not campaign a couple summers ago on the mantra that you were going to raise taxes. That was Minnesotans' biggest fear about turning the reins of this government over to your party," said Emmer. "Same question to you, Rep. Madore. Are you going to vote to raise the taxes the hard-working families of your district in this family?"

Yes I am and I'm going to tell you why," responded Rep. Shelley Madore, DFL-Apple Valley. "The bridge went down on Aug. 1, and a gentlemen from my district died. He left four children and I went to his funeral. I stood there with his family and I looked at them in the face. And when you're asking me, 'Is his life worth a nickel a gallon?' I'm telling you it is"

The Republicans claim that the gas tax and the bridge are separate issues. They are separate issues in so much as we can never know if the bridge would have stayed up if the transportation budget had been increased earlier. But the gas tax is going to the transportation budget, and while that is not paying for the replacement 35W bridge, it is going to (at least try to) prevent another bridge from falling down.

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