Higher gas tax not playing well in Anokaby Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio
The six Minnesota House Republicans who crossed party lines to increase transportation funding and the gas tax are all up for re-election this year. And some of them are already facing a backlash from their constitutents for overriding Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto of the transportation bill.
Anoka, Minn. — Of the dozen or so people who stopped by to fill up at Casey's General Store in Anoka over the lunch hour Tuesday, Tim Bird had about the most positive outlook on the the coming gas tax increase.
"I mean it's inevitable, but it's going to drain me, because I use a few vehicles," he said.
Bird pumped only five gallons into his big red Suburban, just enough to get to his next job repairing garage doors.
"I've never filled my tank," he said. "Never, unless I go four-wheeling."
But Bird is resigned to the increase, and he doesn't think he'll hold it against his state representative, Kathy Tingelstad, R-Andover. Truth be told, he didn't even remember she was his rep.
But Bird is in the minority at Casey's this day.
"No, I won't be voting for her," said Jeff Grampton.
"When I heard that she crossed over, I just thought that wasn't a good idea," said Carolyn Hugg.
This gas station sits near the border of two Minnesota House districts -- 48B and 49B. And both seats currently belong to Republicans who backed the transportation bill. Tingelstad is one, and the other is Jim Abeler of Anoka.
Harold Staton won't be voting Abeler this November.
"You voted for that gas tax, you're on my list," he said. "Get out of there. You know, you get a good man that's going to get in there and once he gets in there, he turns the other way."
Even the Democrats who stop by Casey's think raising say raising the gas tax is a bad move. Anoka DFLer Kelly Witthuhn said she can't afford it.
"We're all struggling around here just to keep our houses," she said. "A lot of us around here around here are going into foreclosure almost because we can't pay our bills. No work, no nothing. It's tough."
The gas tax is going up a total of 8-and-a-half cents per gallon, but the increase is being phased in. The first 5-and-a-half cents will be added by this fall. There are other taxes and fees in the transportation package, too. And it all adds up to $6.6 billion dollars for roads, bridges and transit over the next 10 years.
But the consensus at Casey's on this morning is solidly against the gas tax increase. And most of the customers say they'll still be sore about it come election day this November.
- All Things Considered, 02/26/2008, 5:52 p.m.