For more information contact: Michael Howard 651-296-4169
In good times and bad, Minnesota’s leaders have routinely invested in the future and vitality of our state. Governor Quie’s tax increases, Governor Anderson’s Minnesota Miracle, and Governor Carlson’s MinnesotaCare are all examples of this kind of bold action. Forward-thinking leadership from policymakers and citizens alike is what we need today with respect to our mounting transportation problems.
Minnesota’s commitment to its future has not extinguished, but it has taken a heck of a beating under the leadership of Governor Pawlenty. Under the current management, Minnesota has been tentative, seemingly unwilling to make the sacrifices or difficult decisions needed for the future and well being of our state. We are living in “MinneSorta."
Inadequate planning for the I-35W Bridge rebuild is a clear case in point. After the bridge collapse, the Governor agreed we needed a comprehensive transportation plan and began negotiating with legislative leaders. Initially the Governor supported a 5-cent gas tax to accomplish this goal, but over the subsequent weeks he receded from this position, offering the modifier “temporary” to “gas tax.” He then proposed an income tax cut equal to a gas tax increase, robbing Peter to pay Paul, which further undercut the revenue needed to replace the bridge. Finally, he told us that he didn’t need any state funding for the bridge at all, suggesting that there was adequate funding available from federal sources.
Fast forward to October, and Minnesota faces a very different scenario. The Governor now admits federal funds are not adequate to rebuild the bridge. According to Congressman Oberstar, applications for available federal funds have not been completed. An eight-member subset of legislators is now being asked to grant authority to spend $195 million because MnDOT doesn’t have enough money to re-build the bridge without halting other important projects. Is this any way to run a state?
During the legislative session last spring, we sent two transportation bills to the Governor. Keeping with Minnesota’s tradition of strategic investment for the future, the comprehensive packages invested in the safety of today’s roads and bridges while provided funding for the transit we must employ to move future populations about effectively. The Governor said the plans were too expensive and vetoed both of them.
We should expect more from our Governor than vetoes, and shifting proposals when so much is at stake. We have a 20-year lag in transportation funding, a bridge has collapsed, and MnDOT is out of money. We should expect nothing less than real action and real results from our Governor. Until he realizes this, we may want to refer to our state as “MinneSorta.”
Representative Erin Murphy
District 64 A
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