According to this article, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce intends to throw its weight around on putting a transportation bill together. The good news for the DFL is that the Chamber wants some spending on transit. The bad news for the DFL is that the Chamber doesn’t want a tax increase for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges.

Harry Melander, the president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, recently said “When the labor groups and the Chamber get together, it’s usually when stuff gets done. If it doesn’t, then I think we have a much bigger problem with the people up at the Capitol.” Meanwhile, the Chamber isn’t pushing for a gas tax increase like they did in 2008, the last time the gas tax was increased.

The Chamber can supply a little political cover for a middle class tax increase in some years. This year, that’s a (pardon the pun) a bridge too far. Further, the DFL majority in the Senate isn’t likely to pass a middle class tax increase if they aren’t convinced that House Republicans will join them in voting for the tax increase.

Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition to raising taxes to support new transit projects. Charley Weaver of the Minnesota Business Partnership probably is serious about pushing transit but it’s still possible that he’s bluffing. When Weaver said “We wanted to be crystal clear that this is a priority for us. This isn’t an afterthought. This isn’t, ‘Gee, if you get around to it.'”, it’s possible that they aren’t willing to expend much political capital pushing transit as part of a transportation bill.

If Weaver insists, however, on pushing transit, he should expect tons of pushback from citizens. There isn’t a great groundswell of support for transit. There is a significant groundswell of support for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. If Weaver pushes too hard for transit, he’ll lose the entire package.

7 Responses to “Minnesota Chamber’s transportation plan”

  • Chad Q says:

    Why on earth would the Chamber want to spend another dime on transit (when they say transit, they mean trains) when we have blown billions of dollars on two LRT systems and a heavy rail system that move very few people in comparison to the amount of people our road system moves? Just imagine the roads and bridges that could have been built/repaired with $2.5 billion dollars.

  • eric z says:

    Transit is by far cheaper than a comprehensive road upgrade. That, Chad, is the likely Chamber viewpoint.

    $2.5 billion on roads would be a bandaid. MnDOT did one, ONE only, interchange upgrade on HWY 10 in Anoka County (Ramsey) and the cost, one project, was staggering.

    Without revenue, debt financing is the only option; so either tax now or tax later.

  • JerryE9 says:

    Do the math again. For the cost of an LRT line, MN could add two lanes each way to every freeway in the metro.

    For the cost of Central Corridor, a fleet of hybrid busses could run up and down that line every 4 minutes for 700 years! You could GIVE every rider a new car and put gas in it, for the life of the car.

    People make their transportation decisions intelligently. Politicians do not.

  • eric z says:

    Jerry, is that the Daudt-Hann plan then, and if so how will it be financed? Do those two think that boldly?

    Or have they no plan?

  • JerryE9 says:

    Roads and bridges repairs and upgrades can be adequately financed with existing revenues, especially if these wasteful choo-choo projects are curbed. There is no plan to add two lanes each way because it is unnecessary, just like the choo-choos.

  • Chad Q says:

    The un-weave the weave, 35E MnPass construction, and Crosstown projects together cost less than the Central corridor LRT. More people, goods, and services are moved on those roads than the LRT can ever hope to move.

    What is the liberal plan for funding roads and bridges other than another regressive tax on working families, especially when the state is already over taxed people to the tune of $2 billion over the last 2 years?

    Repeal the transit amendment and take VEHICLE taxes and use them strictly for roads and bridges, just like the gas tax. Raise fares on transit riders and make them pay for their mode of transportation instead of making drivers pay for it. And last but not least, shut down the North Star rail service, sell the trains for what you can get for them, and never, ever spend another dollar on antiquated modes of transportation, i.e. trains.

  • JerryE9 says:

    Thanks, Chad, but I wonder why transit fares won’t increase to pay for the service? Is it because, for every fare paid by the rider, the taxpayers pick up $7?! And North Star is worse? What would happen to ridership if it weren’t massively subsidized?

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