ST. PAUL (AP) -- It's lawmaking in the slow lane. The bill is stuck on the runway. Negotiators are miles apart.
Just about any on-the-way-to-nowhere metaphor will do to describe the distance the House and Senate still need to go on the transportation projects bill.
On Tuesday, House members on the conference committee rejected the 6 cents a gallon gasoline tax increase that was passed by the Senate.
Those members said they agree Minnesota could use the $500 million a year the Senate plan would spend to battle growing congestion, but they said a large gas tax increase simply can't pass the House.
The GOP-led House proposes $150 million a year over five years on transportation projects.
Rep. Bill Kuisle, R-Rochester, the leader of the House negotiators, compared the Senate plan to a corn-fattened pig. Fellow Republican Rep. Tom Workman of Chanhassen allowed that the House's own plan might well be described as a skinny goat.
The House voted to pay for new transportation projects by borrowing against increased revenue expected from the existing 20-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax as well as in motor vehicle sales taxes and license tab fees.
The Senate's bill would also allow people in the metropolitan area to vote whether to raise sales taxes a half-cent for additional road spending. Kuisle said the House wouldn't accept that, either.
He said House conferees will offer some new ideas on Wednesday, but he indicated they're unlikely to include a gas-tax increase.
Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, leading the Senate negotiators, said Republicans who control the House are putting themselves in political peril with their opposition for more transportation spending and a higher gas tax.
"I can just see the billboards, I can just hear the radio ads," he said.
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