Minnesota Gov. Unveils Plan to Fast Track Transit Funding

In a budget unveiled last month, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a .25 percent sales tax increase to fund an expansion of the Twin Cities metro area's public transit systems. The proposal has garnered enthusiastic support.

Marlys Harris reports on Gov. Dayton's proposal for a "0.25 percent tax on sales in the seven-county metropolitan area that would provide a permanent stream of money to expand LRT construction, add bus rapid transit lines and make up transit operating deficits." The plan has garnered support from legislators, and is viewed favorably by a majority of voters in the effected counties.

“To have the governor state that transit is part of his vision for the growth of the region in the 21st century and then to have him back that up with resources, well, it's a great way to start off a legislative session," says Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County Commissioner and long-time public-transit advocate. "I'm incredibly appreciative of what the governor has done."

"Transportation chairs in both the state House and Senate -- Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) and Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) -- endorsed the tax enthusiastically in a joint press release. 'It's highly unusual to have a significant tax increase proposed by a governor to benefit mass transit,' Hornstein later told me in a phone call."

Harris breaks down the litany of projects that the projected $250 million in tax revenues could fund: "That would be enough to provide an annual expansion of bus service (more routes, greater frequency and longer hours), fund the local portion of the cost of the Southwest LRT, add as many as 12 arterial bus rapid-transit or streetcar lines over the next 20 years, and eventually build the Bottineau LRT, which would stretch northwest of Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center, and the Gateway LRT, which would extend east of St. Paul into Washington County."

In a recent editorial, The Minneapolis Star Tribune expressed their enthusiastic support for Gov. Dayton's plan.

Full Story: Dayton offers game-changing transit plan

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