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Transportation Omnibus Bill: VETOED

There is a lot to like in terms of spending for roads, airports and freight. In fact, it follows and improves on the Center’s 2015 Policy Blueprint. The bill includes bonding and eliminates funding for passenger rail. Here’s the big concession: metro counties are given the power to raise the local transit sales tax to half a cent to pay for building and operating transit without a referendum. ...

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Quick update on transit and transportation issues at the Capitol

Revised: The end of session actions taken by Republicans are somewhat disorienting given the fact that the transportation bill coming out of the House was very good and the signals from the Senate seemed good, as well. Then it went to conference committee. What came out was very different. Before the Legislature got the bill ready to send to Gov. Dayton today, apparently leadership opted to anticipate what Dayton would do, and removed most if not all offending language....

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Is Southwest LRT going to derail the transportation bill again?

Minnesota does not have to have a transportation bill this year. Just like last year, there is tax and bonding money in the pipeline so a lot of things can get handled anyway. But we have not had a bill in years and the roads I drive on are worthy of the third world. You may recall that Southwest LRT threw the session into chaos in the Senate last year. That meant the transportation bill tanked and the entire state got nothing for roads or transit, all because of a slavish devotion by Metro DFLer’s to one $2 billion train....

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Federal and Local Funding Still in Doubt for Southwest Light Rail

The sigh of relief by Met Council brass over a $10 million New Starts federal grant that keeps the Southwest Light Rail line on life support illustrates just how jittery the regional agency has become over the fate of the controversial $1.9 billion project. But the troubled line still faces significant obstacles in Washington and St. Paul that threaten to derail funding and approval of the project. The funding announcement became news as part of the federal budget deal reached by Congress over the weekend. Some initial reports gave the impression that Congress had fully funded the project and directed the US...

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Don’t Put Light Rail on Next Generation’s Credit Card

Not only is light rail transit ineffective in combating congestion, it's also expensive, adding billions to the national debt. The US Department of Transportation has signaled that future transit projects should be locally funded by the people who use them. That puts the controversial Southwest Light Rail Transit line in limbo. American Experiment's Kim Crockett makes the case that SWLRT only saddles the next generation with our financial burdens in a MinnPost column. We are not just taking out loans for ourselves; we are taking out loans on behalf of our kids and grandkids. How are future generations supposed to pay for...

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A response to Hopkins real estate developer: Southwest LRT is a sweetheart deal for developers, terrible deal for taxpayers

Hopkins real estate developer Kelly Doran wrote an enraged commentary in the Star Tribune when he heard that 84 state legislators had asked the FTA and Congress to kill Southwest LRT. Stuart Chazin from Minneapolis Lakes and Parks Alliance wrote a great response. Are taxpayers supposed to fund billions in capital costs and tens of millions a year in operating costs, then replace it all again in 25 years, for LRT that does nothing to relieve congestion because developers are relying on the project? We think not. ...

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Will Governor Dayton Veto Money for Roads?

The House and Senate have both passed transportation bills that follow the general outline recommended in the Center’s Minnesota Policy Blueprint for Transportation: road, roads, and more roads funded with existing revenue and not one dime for light rail. Why can’t the Governor sign a “roads” bill as an Easter gift, and then get on to other pressing matters, like tax relief and education? ...

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Is Southwest Light Rail Transit Line on the Ropes?

The Met Council always expected the Southwest Light Rail Transit line to be on the short list in Washington—the short list for $895 million in federal funding for construction. Instead, the controversial $1.9 billion project has suddenly popped up on a different list of transit projects that the Washington Post warns “could be out of luck under the Trump Budget.” President Trump’s budget proposal zeroes out the New Starts program that funds light rail transit projects like SWLRT. "Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects," according to the...

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