Transportation amendment misleads

Minnesotans should vote against the proposed transportation amendment.

In a contentious election year, all Minnesotans can agree on the merits of increased transportation funding. Unfortunately, the state Legislature, in a hasty move, has placed an ill-advised constitutional amendment on the ballot. On Nov. 7, the people of Minnesota will vote on a proposed permanent raise in the transportation budget. The measure would bring an unprecedented windfall for statewide roads and transit, but would compromise the state’s ability to provide for education and other services.

The legislators’ proposed “solution” is far from that. In effect, $300 million would be removed annually from the state’s general fund. Proponents make it sound as if they are creating $300 million. They are simply maneuvering existing money, and other departments, most notably education, could find themselves with potholes of their own.

Public schools rely heavily on the state for money. In 2006, the state covered 69 percent of operating costs for schools across Minnesota. That money would not easily be replaced without additional taxes.

A coalition of local organizations and companies called Minnesotans for Better Roads and Transit, have launched a massive “Vote Yes” campaign to sway voters. It’s a shrewd move by the group, which is primarily composed of companies that stand to profit immensely from the amendment. Trucking, construction, and transportation companies make up the bulk of the alliance.

Despite the abundance of positive press, voters need to carefully survey the propaganda. The amendment would help roads, but reallocating the $300 million would necessitate taxes or cuts from other programs. In addition, it is simply bad policy to permanently designate money in such a manner. The proposal would provide less flexibility for balancing the budget for years to come. In reality, our legislators failed to adequately address the problem during the 2006 session and are now providing a careless remedy.

Don’t accept this brand of shoddy work from your elected officials. Nov. 7 should mark the end of the road for the transportation amendment. Vote No.