Sen. Hawj dismayed by insufficient Republican Transportation Bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Senator Foung Hawj (DFL–St. Paul) provided the following statement on the Republican Transportation budget bill agreement.

“Behind closed doors, the Republican House and Senate leadership have proposed a transportation bill that hardly scratches the surface of our transportation needs. Without sufficient funding dedicated for roads, bridges and transit, Minnesotans and our businesses will lose the competitive edge needed to attract new businesses and talent.”

“Republicans, Democrats and the Governor all agree we need $600 million per year for the next 10 years to maintain our current roads and make strategic expansions. A bare minimum of $400 million per year is needed just to maintain and modernize our current assets. This proposal falls far short of that and leaves Minnesotans and businesses in no better shape than they are in today.”

“Not only is there insufficient funding overall to fix our state’s massive road and bridge system, there is a 10 percent cut to transit. At a time when the metro population is growing rapidly, reducing funding to critical bus and train service is detrimental to families, students and businesses who rely on foot traffic. I am extremely dismayed by this year’s transportation proposal,” said Sen. Hawj.

Key provisions:

  • Underfunding Minnesota’s Needs: This proposal falls far short, about $639 million dollars short for the biennium, of what is needed just to maintain and modernize our current roads and bridges. It only raises $161 million in new funding for the biennium for state road construction and maintenance.
  • Cuts to Transit: The Republican budget proposal continues to neglect transit funding across Minnesota. Without additional funding, transit options for students and the elderly will be reduced by 10%, leaving many Minnesotans without a way to get to work, school, or medical appointments.
  • Light Rail Transit Prohibited: The bill cuts operations support for future LRT lines; prohibits cities, counties, and MnDOT/Met Council from investing in light rail without legislative approval; and eliminates local Metro authorities’ ability to impose a transportation tax greater than a quarter cent without a referendum, unlike counties outside of the metro.
  • Shifts Funding Away from General Fund: The bill takes $372 million from the general fund in FY18-19, and $566 million in FY20-21.
  • Met Council Governance Reform: This bill contains the Met Council reform proposal, which raises significant red flags. The bill increases the size of the Met Council, changes the definition of the area under the Council’s authority, and includes locally elected officials as Met Council Officials, which DFLers believe could lead to many conflicts of interest.
  • Dissolves the Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB): This controversial provision that takes away local control was never even heard in a single committee in the House or Senate. It eliminates CTIB, the existing quarter cent sales tax in five metro counties, and prohibits the counties from using any new tax revenues on a fixed guideway project (LRT/BRT) that is not in revenue operations.
Senator Foung Hawj
Foung Hawj represents District 67, which includes the east side of Saint Paul in Ramsey County in the central Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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