Veto override necessary

The gas tax increase will fix highways and bridges across the state.

In the past 70 years, only two other governors have vetoed as many pieces of legislation as Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But Monday, the Legislature reversed Pawlenty’s decision on the transportation bill.

The House and Senate, after passing the transportation bill last week that Pawlenty subsequently vetoed, overrode that veto Monday. It will impose the first gas tax increase in 20 years in Minnesota.

This increase is a necessity, as the need for more transportation funding becomes apparent and as the need for more funding in other areas grows. Legislators from across party lines rightfully came to an agreement to dedicate $1.8 billion for highway projects and $600 million to replace bridges.

Some Republicans, even with party leaders threatening to revoke media privileges, resources and staff, still sided opposite Republican Pawlenty, who has promised not to increase taxes since his election.

These legislators made the right decision, many of them acknowledging that 20 years without an increase was long enough, even despite potential political fallout.

Some Minnesotans argue the tax increase places more of a burden on citizens during a time when people are already strapped for money. Yes, the eventual extra five cents per gallon will add up.

But this is a tax that we choose to pay by purchasing gas. We can offset the personal burden by changing our driving habits, such as beginning to car pool or using public transportation.

Not only would these methods be more cost-effective at the personal level, but they’re better for the environment and don’t strain the transportation infrastructure to such a degree.

The extra nickel per gallon in the tax isn’t much more than weekly fluctuations in gas prices. But even if we do feel the effects or cut back on how much we each spend on gas, the extra funding will help build and reinforce infrastructure into the future that has gone underfunded for 20 years.