Minnesota Network for Progressive Action

About Comments
The mnpACT! blog welcomes all comments from visitors, which are immediately posted, but we also filter for spammers:
  • No active URLs or web links are allowed (use www.yourweb.com).
  • No drug or pharma- ceutical names are allowed.
  • Your comment "Name" must be one word with no spaces and cannot be an email address.
You should also note that a few IP addresses and homepage URLs have been banned from posting comments because they have posted multiple spam messages.

Please be aware we monitor ALL comments and reserve the right to delete obvious spam comments.



 
Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites

Listed on BlogShares

 
site search

Site Meter
 
  Progressive Political Blog

Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Speaker Kurt Daudt Is Just Bad At His Job

Category: Transportation
Posted: 06/22/16 14:19

by Dave Mindeman

Now the House GOP is moving the goal posts on a special session:

But instead of getting closer to an agreement, things went backwards on Tuesday when Republicans brought language for two "controversial" proposals into the mix, Dayton said. One proposal would block local governments from passing their own wage and employee benefit laws, and the other would provide tax credits for private schools, a proposal that had prevented lawmakers from agreeing to a special session before, back in January and February.

Kurt Daudt is just bad at his job.

Once more, he completely ignores any possible compromise with the Democrats, and instead, adds more items to his list. And then he is "surprised" that progress is not being made.

Why would you demand a limitation at the local level on wages and benefits? Are you afraid that workers might actually get a raise? And bringing up tax credits for private schools - seriously, you know that has been hashed and rehashed before and is controversial enough to go nowhere. Especially now.

You don't add bargaining chips after the fact.

Kurt Daudt is just bad at his job.

And I realize that it is important to Daudt to blame the other side for anything and everything, but have a point. If you think this is about politics, maybe you should have thought of that when the session was ending. Then you had the choice - you had the power to make it work. Now, you do not. You abdicated that power. It is now in the governor's hands, so stop acting like you still have it.

Really, really bad at his job.
comments (2) permalink

Special Session: This Fear Of Trains Is Foolishness

Category: Transportation
Posted: 06/21/16 14:16

by Dave Mindeman

We are stuck at an impasse for a special session. Most of it seems to be attributable to the House GOP position that they will not support light rail.

The quotes are ominous:

Kurt Daudt: "I don't know yet if this is a sticking point that's going to hold everything else up. I hope it's not, but at this point there are not enough votes to pass these bills if Southwest light rail is included."

Rep. Peggy Bennett: "The Southwest Light Rail Transit project (SWLRT) costs $1.77 billion total. The state can pay up to $135 million for construction and is expected to pay a portion of the $28.7 million in annual operations costs."

Tax Chair Greg Davids calls it a "non-starter". They seem to want it to die.

So let's consider the realities of this:

1) Funding

Let's look at Rep. Bennett assertion about cost. First of all, of that $1.77 billion cost, about $1 billion of it will come from the Federal government. But that $1 billion is not going to be available much longer - it will go somewhere else if Minnesota does not invest their own portion. We may not get another chance at that level of investment. And let us also be clear, this is not money that is raising anyone's taxes. The $1 billion appropriation has already been accounted for in the Fed budget - it will go somewhere, so it is important that Minnesota finally get a share. We already pay much more in Fed taxes than we get back in benefits.

2) How to pay for it

The House Republicans assert that greater Minnesota wants no party of light rail. They do not benefit and the costs are too high. Well, if greater MN was being asked to pay for it, I would agree with them. But they are not. The funding will come from a seven county metro sales tax..not a statewide tax. There may also be some bonding money involved which is paid back statewide, but there are also plenty of outstate projects involved for which the Metro area gets no benefit. The House GOP assertions are bogus.

3) The cost will continue to rise

As we continue to debate this, the cost of this project will probably be greater than the $1.77 billion now projected. And that increase will be on us - our portion. We have flailed away on this project for years with local arguments and routes....all of which has ended up increasing the costs. If we do not do this now, I fear it will fail completely and the Fed money goes away and we lose out on our entire investment up to this point.

4) Killing special session wipes out other agreements

There are plenty of good things that benefit the entire state waiting to be agreed upon in a special session. House Republicans seem to believe that they are making political points by this boycott. Yet, the greater MN constituency that they say they are protecting is really not affected by the light rail issue - they may not get full benefits, but they are not paying for it either. Therefore, allowing all the other agreements to die because of a political point on metro rail is doing a disservice to greater MN.

5) This is a necessary investment for future growth

The House GOP only discusses light rail in terms of costs. They ignore the benefits...and they ignore their chamber allies who want this to move forward. Transit is an investment that has a high rate of return. The future is full of people who want to use transit instead of cars. Of commuters who want an alternative. Of development projects waiting for the routes to be determined. And it is our method of competing with other metro areas that already are way ahead of us on mass transit. Metro areas that will compete with us for businesses and educated workers.

To me, there is no question that the investment in SWLRT is no-brainer. But even for the House Republicans that do not like it, it is not taking funds away from your prioritized projects. This special session can be quickly adjudicated and all the benefits that the House feels it has lost can be restored.

Light rail is an important aspect of the future for Minnesota. Letting a special session die over an unwillingness to make that investment is foolhardy.

And really, Speaker Daudt, you do not have to fear the trains.
comments (26) permalink

Dakota County Commissioners Add To The Problem

Category: Transportation
Posted: 06/17/16 11:46

by Dave Mindeman

It would be nice if there weren't so many competing interests when it comes to light rail and transit. Too many entities are worried about "getting my fair share" or NIMBY (Not in my back yard).

We need to concentrate on the big picture, but we just don't.

The Dakota County Commissioners are not happy with how their transit dollars are used...and are threatening to pull out of the Counties Improvement Transit Board. And since Dakota County is a pretty large portion of the regional authority, population wise, it would make things difficult for everybody.

Dakota County says they are getting less returned than they are putting in. Well, maybe. Dakota County currently has the Red Line BRT which comes out of Apple Valley and they are working on extending it into Lakeville. Part of the county will also be serviced by the BRT Orange line which follows 35W.

These are important components (when you add the connection of the Red Line to Hiawatha rail) for commuters in Apple Valley and Eagan, to be able to get to jobs or businesses in Minneapolis proper.

The idea that every dollar that Dakota County contributes has to directly go back into county projects is pretty ridiculous. It is all interconnected and has to follow a plan for the region.

This little "rebellion" by the Dakota County Commissioners doesn't surprise me though. In recent years, the board is gradually getting taken over by former Republicans. I don't know if this pattern is intentional but we have two former Republican legislators (Chris Gerlach and Mary Liz Holberg) who have recently been elected. Both of them have been strong opponents of light rail in the past. And Liz Workman, a Republican as well, is also on the board. They only need one of the others to form a majority.

The board also has a stake in SWLRT and they are watching what happens with a possible special session. They have a $4 million contribution involved right now - they could help with funding options by an increase in that commitment, but they won't be doing that if some of their county partners are going to pull the plug on support for current projects.

Mass transit funding has many component parts - too many it would seem, because they are only as strong as their weakest partner. And with so many that are timid about these kinds of investments, transit gets stalled and underfunded.

Maybe we need to be looking more critically at the make up of our county commissioners. These are elected officials and will be held accountable. I realize that they are there to work for the best interests of the county - but the reality of transit is that the interests of the county are intertwined with the region. The system needs to be connected in order to have value.

I would hope that they will consider that.
comments (0) permalink
« First « Previous

Calendar

« June 2016 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30


Latest posts


Archive

(one year)

Categories


Comments



Links


RSS Feeds

RSS 0.91
RSS 2.0

 
 
 
Powered by
Powered by SBlog
 
Copyright © Minnesota Network for Progressive Action. All rights reserved. Legal. Privacy Policy. Sitemap.