St. Paul, Minn. – This afternoon, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the strongest transportation budget bill in a generation on a bipartisan vote of 71-59. The legislation makes investments in roads, bridges, and transit systems across the state. It leverages billions of dollars in federal funds. It places a high priority on curbing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and makes critical investments in road and transit safety.
The bill provides for a first-ever dedicated funding source for small cities, supports the success corridors for commerce program, and finances a new passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Duluth. In light of recent train derailments, the bill adds two rail safety inspectors.
“This bill is making a generational investment in our infrastructure,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “This bill is a pathway to a better life in job-creating, commerce-promoting environmentally-beneficial transportation systems.”
House DFLers are committed to slowing the effects of climate change as transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation bill invests in public transit, electric vehicles, intercity passenger rail, funding for nonmotorized transportation options and emissions impact assessments.
House DFLers are prioritizing safety investments in their transportation proposal, with a variety of measures including the creation of a Traffic Safety Advisory Council to collaborate on innovative and cross-sector solutions to counter Minnesota’s growing problem with dangerous driving and traffic fatalities. The bill also establishes a new Transit Rider Investment Program (TRIP) to enforce fare payment via administrative citations, monitor passenger activity, act as aliaison to social services, assist and accompany riders, and obtain assistance from officers when necessary. It provides funding to help ensure Minnesota students can safely walk and bike to school and commits ongoing investments in active transportation to ensure communities have safe non-motorized options.
“Minnesotans deserve safe and reliable transportation options, whether that’s a car, bus, train, bike, or however they choose to get around,” said Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL – Shakopee), Vice Chair of the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “As we set our state budget, our investments are made all the more effective when Minnesotans can get to where they need to be, and this Transportation budget makes the once-in-a-generation investments that lay the groundwork for our state to thrive.”
“Minnesotans expect our transportation system to be safe, modern, and efficient. But over the years, funding has not kept up with inflation. We need to invest in all modes — roads, rail, ports, airports, transit, bikes, and pedestrians,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “The House DFL budget balances addressing current transportation needs while building a stronger and more sustainable transportation system moving forward by leveraging federal investments, and improving safety for all Minnesotans.
It also contains important changes to improve efficiencies in Minnesota’s Driver and Vehicle Services. The legislation delivers initiatives to provide better customer experiences with DVS including maintenance of exam sites, support for our deputy registrars, and expanded remote renewal options.
“Minnesotans deserve to be safe when they travel on our state’s roads and bridges, but the Legislature has not adequately funded our transportation system for years, with the last infusion of new resources dating back to 2008,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “I want to thank my colleague and friend Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Frank Hornstein for putting forth this bold, innovative proposal that would finally make the needed investments in our roads, bridges, and transit that Minnesotans are asking for. This is a good bill and it will benefit workers, families, businesses, and entire communities for years to come.”
The legislation House Democrats are championing also includes investments for theassessment and predesign of a new State Patrol headquarters building, and helicopter replacement to provide better operations and functionality for search and rescue.
You can watch a recap of the Floor Debate here.