A pair of legislators on Thursday introduced a $332 million proposal with a new transit tax, adding to the growing number of proposals to fund transit.
Minneapolis Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL District 59) and Brooklyn Park Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-District 36B) are proposing to spend an additional $300 million per year in the metro and $32 million in Greater Minnesota on transit and connections for people walking, bicycling or using wheelchairs.
Click on the PDFs to the right of this article to read the full bills.
"Across the state, people want more options and support investment in public transportation. And they want bicycling and walking to be part of that investment,” a news release quoted Hortman, the chief author of the bill in the House. “This bill is an opportunity to solve problems for Minnesotans, creating a more competitive, healthier state."
- 41.5 percent to the Metropolitan Council for bus transit;
- 41.5 percent to the Counties Transit Improvement Board;
- 7 percent to cities in the metro area to provide transit service and provide increased access for transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists through projects such as sidewalks, bike routes or shuttles;
- 7 percent to counties in the metro area for the same use as cities and
- 3 percent to the Metropolitan Council for regional bicycle, trail and pedestrian infrastructure and maintenance
In addition to the sales tax, the bill would also set aside $95 million in bonding money for environmental studies, preliminary engineering, property acquisition, design and construction in the following transit corridors:
- Southwest Light Rail,
- Bottineau Boulevard,
- Nicollet Avenue,
- Snelling Avenue,
- Red Rock,
- Robert Street and
- Rush Line.
Although the corridors like Southwest and Bottineau are primarily known as light rail transit routes, the money could be spent on all forms of transportation in the corridor.
“We need a transit system that allows all our region’s residents to thrive,” a news release quoted Champion, the chief author of the bill in the Senate. “This bill would dramatically increase access to jobs for low income people and make it more affordable to get to work. Transportation is the second largest household expense. It costs more than health care or education. Existing transit riders need better transit options and our region needs this to compete.”
The proposal is just one of various transit proposals in the Legislature. In early February, Edina Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-District 49) introduced Senate File 257 and Senate File 258—which would use bond proceeds to fund $118 million and $37 million, respectively, of the Southwest LRT project. Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Dayton recommended a quarter-cent sales tax increase that would set up a dedicated revenue stream for transit.