Hello from the State Capitol,
Today, the Minnesota House will be debating a transportation bill that will fund our state’s road, bridge and transit infrastructure. Throughout my tenure in the Minnesota House, I have served on the House transportation finance committee, and I plan to offer several amendments to improve this proposal. As currently constructed, this plan does include several questionable priorities that need to be addressed.
Currently in the proposal, there is a provision that would study the effectiveness of the Northstar commuter rail line. Unfortunately, one of the options that’s not included in the study is to eliminate it. My A52 amendment would add elimination as an option, and the transportation chair has agreed to include that when it is presented on the House floor.
As background, the Northstar commuter line currently sees around 300 riders per day. That’s it. With the amount Minnesota is forced to subsidize this train, we could buy each of these riders a brand-new Mercedes E-Class. Continued funding of this train simply does not make sense, and cutting our losses has to be an option.
My second amendment would delete the proposed Metro-wide sales tax included in the proposal. This bill would implement a ¾ of a cent sales tax increase throughout the 7-county Metro Area, and would cost taxpayers more than $2 billion over the next four years. 84% of that money would go towards transit, while only 16% of it would be used for roads and bridges. At a time when residents are already struggling with inflation, this provision would make everything more expensive. If all the proposed sales tax increases go through this year, Minneapolis will have a sales tax over 9%!
The A89 amendment I’m offering focuses on Highway 65. It would take the nearly $200 million that the House majority wants to spend on a high-speed train to Duluth and put that money towards road and bridge needs like Highway 65. Now, there is minimal funding for Highway 65 in the transportation funding proposal but not nearly enough. If my amendment is approved and the bill is signed into law, there would be enough revenue to finish off the 99th, 105th, and 109th Avenue intersections.
All in all, there will be nearly $3.5 billion in tax and fee increases included in this transportation funding proposal over the next four years. This makes no sense considering Minnesota has a $20 billion surplus. But if the majority insists on raising taxes with this much available money at its disposal, my amendment will ensure that Highway 65 would get around $100 million in road improvement funding.
Talk to you soon,