Urging fellow legislators to seize the moment, Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls) has proposed investing about $9 billion on roads, bridges, train tracks, buses and safety measures.
“We are at an historic crossroads when it comes to transportation,” Hornstein told the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “The federal government has stepped up in a big way because they, like many of us here, understand transportation is a key ingredient to a successful society.”
Hornstein said the state needs to take full advantage of billions of dollars from the federal Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which he compared to building the interstate system and the New Deal. Putting off investments in infrastructure won’t make problems go away; they just get more expensive, he said.
While money is available now, the long-term outlook is not as rosy.
Much of the state’s transportation funding comes from a gas tax, vehicle sales taxes and vehicle registration fees. Increased fuel efficiency and vehicle durability mean less revenue than projected.
To address funding issues coming down the road, the bill calls for increased fees, taxes and altered allocation of sales tax dollars.
“People say we can’t raise revenue in a time of surplus,” Hornstein said. “Well, I heard just a few years ago we can’t raise revenue in a time of deficit. There’s always an excuse.”
Aiming to address potential revenue shortfall, the omnibus will would:
[MORE: View the revenue summary]
Total transportation spending would be close to $9 billion in the next biennium including: $8 billion for the Department of Transportation; $581.8 million for the Department of Public Safety agencies involved with transportation; and $178.3 million for the Metropolitan Council.
The bill would authorize an additional $821 million in spending from the Trunk Highway Fund for maintenance and construction of state roads.
There is additional funding for local roads and bridges including $176.6 million more for county roads, $58.13 million more for municipalities and $19.36 million for townships. The bill would also create a dedicated funding stream for small cities with $38.7 million in the next biennium and an expectation of more than $42 million every year going forward.
Increased appropriations from the General Fund would include:
[MORE: View the spreadsheet]
Many of the new policies would address rider comfort and safety, such as a proposal by Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) for employing people in a transit rider investment program who would offer directions, check fare payments and help enforce rules.
Other policy provisions in the bill would:
What’s in the bill?
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus transportation finance bill: