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Transit: The House GOP Is Standing In The Way Of Our Future

Category: Transportation
Posted: 05/02/16 13:26, Edited: 05/02/16 13:43

by Dave Mindeman

We are going to look back on this period...this legislative period...and wonder what the hell we were thinking?

We have infrastructure problems, maintenance problems, carbon emission problems...problems, problems, problems.

And we are not addressing them.

This is a representative democracy which means we count on those we elect to take care of the day to day needs of how the state operates. We do not elect them to do what we wish them to do, we elect them to do what we need them to do.

That is why this transportation conundrum is so frustrating. We need our elected representatives to find out what is needed, how best to meet that need, and THEN JUST DO IT!

And that brings us to transit. Southwest Light Rail has things to work out, no question. But nobody thinks that we should abandon the whole thing. The commuters want it, the cities involved want it, the state needs it.

We have been fooling around with getting the metropolitan area into a full multi-modal system for decades. Constant delays. Arguments about funding. Arguments about process. It is ridiculous.

Seniors are looking to a future where they are not dependent on cars. Students need it to expand their school choices. Commuters need it for a reliable method to get to work. Employers need it to expand their markets.

Seven Minnesota Senators have taken a stand to withhold their bonding bill vote unless the state portion of SWLRT funding is included.

The DFLers who support this effort are state Sens. Ron Latz of St. Louis Park, Melisa Franzen of Edina, John Hoffman of Champlin, Jim Carlson of Eagan, Chris Eaton of Brooklyn Park, Kathy Sheran of Mankato and Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights.

Transportation heroes as far as I am concerned.

And they are not fighting simply for $135 million in money to contribute to the SWLRT effort...they are also fighting for the $895 million in Federal money that we would get for doing that. Money that goes somewhere else if we do not contribute our share. (And the deadline is NOW.) That is a pretty good leverage by anyone's standards. A 6 to 1 return on investment.

And yet, we have not done it. And the House Republicans don't intend to do it.

The House Republicans have stood in the way of our transportation future far too long. If they are going to stand in the way then let's get them out of the way.

This is just too damn important.
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Rep. Knoblach Ends His Phantom Money Rail Project

Category: Transportation
Posted: 04/29/16 18:32

by Dave Mindeman

Came across this blurb in the news....

Rep. Jim Knoblach says he's suspending his push to extend Northstar to St. Cloud this session. Knoblach said he's halting his effort to pass his bill to extend the commuter rail line because of the negative response from Gov. Mark Dayton's administration.

My question is, what exactly were you expecting, Rep. Knoblach?

It is hard to take a proposal that has no funding and no structure to it and have any response at all.

Even the description is preposterous...

Knoblach, a Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, authored a bill to require the state to negotiate with BNSF Railway Co. to extend the commuter rail line to St. Cloud from its current end point in Big Lake. The bill doesn't include any funding for an expansion, and prohibits the state from spending any more on operating costs than already budgeted.

I really can't get my head around that.

The Northstar line ends at Big Lake, mainly because there were questions that enough funding could be obtained to get the line all the way to St. Cloud. It would make sense to finish that line and give St. Cloud an opportunity to have a commuting option.

But how can you propose something without money to fund it and with an actual prohibition not to add any money?!

This is another case of the House GOP and their phantom solutions. Smoke and mirrors. Building without investment.

If Knoblach thinks that this is representing St. Cloud, then he is in the same fantasyland, from where his proposal originated.
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Kurt Daudt: Starve the Budget - Feed A Tax Cut

Category: Transportation
Posted: 04/12/16 07:58

by Dave Mindeman

Southern Minnesota county officials are making a plea....

Olmsted County Commissioner Ken Brown said the majority of counties across the state have turned to wheelage fees and local-option sales taxes to help pay for transportation upgrades. "The counties have already made difficult political decisions. They've made the choice to tax their own residents in order to subsidize what is not coming from the state to take care of bridges, roads and our economy," Brown said.

Kurt Daudt thinks he has an answer...

"(Take the) sales tax on auto parts, rental cars and lease vehicles, and move that from the general fund into the road and bridge fund, which would have a couple of impacts. Number one, it would fund our roads and bridges, but number two it would start to starve out the general fund so we move revenue that's currently going into the general fund, which is a really good thing."

Let's be clear. What Daudt is proposing would put us back on the path to major budget deficit shortfalls which will lead to, he hopes, major budget cut backs in other departments.

This is particularly ominous in the face of the last two months of revenue shortfalls. Projected tax revenues have not been met in both February and March.

A House leadership that had careful fiscal management in mind would take all of that into account and look ahead with sound revenue sourcing and not just one time money - or raiding other budget needs.

The need for a gas tax increase is becoming obvious. Even the Chamber of Commerce understands this. County officials in outstate areas understand this. The Governor and Senate understand this.

But Kurt Daudt lives in this tax cut/starve the budget fantasy world that thinks credit cards are free money and budget solutions are gimmicks.

Transportation needs have been neglected long enough. Fix the roads and bridges. Finish metro transit corridors. Invest...invest...invest for that long term payoff that will keep the state growing economically.

This needs to be done. Now.
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