Over the last few weeks, the Senate, House, and Governor have all submitted ideas for repairing the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure in response to a recent bipartisan panel of experts, business leaders, and local officials. Their report was clear- over the next ten years, Minnesota faces a deficit of billions of dollars in transportation funding. With the fifth largest transportation network in the country, responding to this crisis is important if Minnesota is to remain an attractive home for families and businesses.
It’s very important to our district that any transportation funding reform reflects a long-term approach that truly benefits Greater Minnesota. I believe that both the Senate and the Governor have brought forward proposals that would serve our communities well.
In a meeting with the Rice County commissioners and other county commissioners in our district, it was expressed to me that transportation funding is their top priority. They know a robust investment will ensure all corners of the state will see the benefits. Safer and more reliable roads will build on economic growth, preserve rural towns, and bring more jobs to our communities. Further investment in rural transit keeps seniors in their homes and allows disabled individuals to get to work.
Minnesotans know that transportation has to be a priority in order to stay competitive. For every dollar we invest in transportation, we get two back on our investment. Road construction is finished faster, our bridges are safer, and our businesses profit with a smooth transportation system. A comprehensive plan would cost residents of Greater Minnesota about 49 cents a day; in contrast, the average cost of replacing four tires, fixing a bent rim, and a realignment is about $600. A serious commitment to our state’s infrastructure just makes sense.
The Senate proposal suggests investing about $7 billion in transportation projects over ten years in order to better compete in a global economy. Governor Dayton’s proposal invests $6 billion over the same time period to catch up to the decades-old deficiencies in our roads and bridges. In contrast, the House GOP proposal invests $750 million over only four years: just one-eighth the funding our bipartisan panel said the state needs. While $6 billion over 10 years offers a stable funding stream for Minnesota’s transportation system, the state will still need additional investments to adapt to our growing population, aging infrastructure, and increased demands on our roads, bridges, and transit system.
I’m concerned any bill that ignores a comprehensive funding solution would put rural Minnesota at a bigger disadvantage compared to the metro. We have farther distances to travel between cities, and I fear Greater Minnesota roads will be first on the chopping block if we back away from our responsibility. We’ve been dealing with half-measures for far too long in our communities. It’s time to invest in a transportation future that is safer, more efficient, and less costly to Minnesotans in the long run.