St. Paul, Minnesota ( May 23, 2016 ) – The final weeks of the legislative session came down to final minutes and ended with a failure to compromise on transportation. There were multiple efforts from lawmakers to broker a comprehensive deal. We thank legislators and the administration for those efforts and their persistence, especially the Senate and House transportation committee chairs, Senator Dibble and Representative Kelly. The Senate has consistently voted for a comprehensive, sustainable transportation package.
“We are gravely disappointed that lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise on a comprehensive transportation package covering all modes, statewide. Minnesotans are the losers, because costs will only go up while safety and the state’s competitiveness decline. We also decry a process that leaves such major issues to the last minute, with little transparency or accountability,” said Dave Van Hattum, chair of Transportation Forward, a statewide coalition.
Late on the very last night of session, House GOP leaders cobbled a short-term transportation plan into the bonding bill. This passed the House with less than 20 minutes left in the session. The Senate passed an amended version but the House adjourned a few minutes early and before the Senate could return the amended bill back to the House for a final vote. The last-minute bonding and transportation bill the legislature attempted to pass was not a comprehensive, long-term or balanced solution to transportation. It focused on roads and bridges, providing no funding for greater Minnesota bus service, totally inadequate funding for bus and rail in the metro, and very limited funding for safer bicycling and walking.
Voices from across the state—cities, counties, business—have called for getting transportation done this year. A special session finally could do this, but there has to be an indication that a deal emerging from a special session would achieve substantial, long-term, dedicated funding for all modes, statewide. Only comprehensive, dedicated funding will position Minnesota to compete and our residents to enjoy the quality of life they deserve. Any down payment, shortterm plan, or bonding proposal would also need to embrace all modes. It’s not the right deal for Minnesota unless it works for the needs across the state in a balanced and equitable way– roads, bridges, bus, rail, walking and bicycling.