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More road construction

Published (3/28/2008)
By Mike Cook
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The supplemental transportation funding package calls for a $200,000 reduction in biennial funding, yet calls for more spending on road construction.

Approved March 25 by the House Transportation Finance Division, HF3805 was incorporated two days later into the supplemental budget bill created by the House Finance Committee. The target was set by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL-St. Peter), the bill is a small percentage of the $32.4 million cut proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“The only reductions we can make is with the General Fund monies, and as you know we don’t have many General Fund monies,” said Rep. Bernie Lieder (DFL-Crookston). “We only have General Fund monies in rural transportation and in public safety, basically. The rest are all trunk highway funds.”

Items where cuts would occur are:

• a $94,000 reduction for Metropolitan Council transit;

• a $60,000 reduction for the Department of Public Safety, including a $28,000 reduction for the Republican National Convention security coordinator, as was in the governor’s plan, a $17,000 department operating reduction, and a $15,000 Capitol Security reduction;

• a $25,000 decrease for a value capture study that was funded in the transportation finance law passed earlier this year;

• a $19,000 reduction for Greater Minnesota Transit; and

• a $2,000 reduction in the freight area at the Department of Transportation, that deals with things like port operations and railroads.

“I’m very, very appreciative that the way-out-of-proportion cut that the governor proposed for transit of something like $26 million is not here,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls). “I think that $94,000 is not ideal, but hopefully the administration of the Met Council can absorb that. My understanding is this would not effect bus system operations in terms of a fare increase or any of the other draconian things that would have been prompted by the governor’s proposal.”

The plan calls for a $6.85 million appropriation from trunk highway funds to recognize federal funds awarded to the state for bridge construction, as was requested in the governor’s supplemental budget bill.

Also in the governor’s plan, and included in this plan, is a $12 million trunk highway fund appropriation directed at Driver and Vehicle Services in Fiscal Year 2009 for a redesign of the division’s computer system.

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