Roads and transit need new amendment

It’s been 18 years since there’s been dedicated funding for transit in Minnesota.

The Transportation Amendment that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot has been a source of much contention and debate throughout the state.

One source of contention has been the wording “Öthe revenue is dedicated at least 40 percent for public transit assistance and not more than 60 percent for highway purposes.” This has led some opponents to claim that this could lead to all of the revenue being used towards public transit and none being used for highways. While this is theoretically possible, it is important to note that currently the Legislature has the power to dedicate this money any way they see fit and have always balanced the needs of transit with that of roads, highways and bridges.

Also, this would be the first dedicated funding for public transit, which seems fair, considering that both the revenue received from the gas tax and from vehicle license tab fees are dedicated 100 percent towards roads and bridges. As for the seemingly arbitrary numbers, closer investigation of the issue shows that this 60/40 split is very similar to the current ratio of spending for revenue received from the motor vehicle sales tax.

Another contentious point concerning the transportation amendment is the belief that it will lead to significant budget cuts in other important areas, especially education and health care. In reality, predicted budget surpluses will more than make up for this increased funding for transportation and only about 10 percent of this new revenue will be used for transportation. Due to these increases in future revenue surpluses, it is likely that all of the revenue needed to fund the Transportation Amendment will come from growth in state revenue, not from existing funds, and that money will not be taken from other programs.

It has been 18 years since there has been any dedicated funding for transportation in Minnesota. The transportation bill passed by both houses of Congress last year was vetoed by Gov. Pawlenty. As congestion and accidents continue to increase and our statewide transportation system falls further into disrepair, it is imperative that there is an immediate increase in dedicated transportation funding. This is an opportunity to accomplish what the legislature has not been able to.

With these facts in hand, please vote yes for better roads and transit.

Ryan Kopischke is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]