Unable to reach a compromise, Minnesota lawmakers adjourned at midnight on May 23 without making progress on legislation to provide needed funding for the state’s transportation infrastructure.
With only hours left in the 2016 legislative session— after months of debate going back to the 2015 legislative session— the House voted 91-39 on May 22 to approve a bonding bill that included $300 million in one-time transportation funding, significantly less than previously proposed packages. At 11:55 p.m., the Senate amended the legislation to include transit funding. However, the House adjourned sine die, or without assigning a day for future action, at 11:56 p.m., before receiving the revision and was unable to vote on the bill. The Senate voted 50-13 to reconsider the bill in order to remove the amendment, but was unable to accomplish the final vote before midnight, as required, killing the measure. State leaders were unsure if a special session to reconsider the issue would be possible this year.
The state is facing critical transportation funding needs. On Nov. 5, 2015, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) determined the state’s transportation funding shortfall will increase by $3.8 billion over the next 20 years, bringing the total gap to $16.3 billion over that time period. A prior examination of the 2014-2033 timeframe reported a transportation funding gap of $12.5 billion.
This is the latest effort to increase transportation funding in Minnesota. Read more about 2013 and 2008 unsuccessful efforts to increase the state’s gas tax on the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center’s™ ‘Campaign Case Studies’ section. To learn about the significant benefits Minnesota would see if the state increased transportation funding by $600 million per year, read the economic analysis.
Reactions from Minnesota:
Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance and member of the Transportation Investment Advocates Council™, told KWLM Radio:
“With a $900 million surplus and two years of promises to take care of a core government responsibility – repairing roads and bridges – the legislature once again failed to reach agreement on a compromise plan to fund transportation. The defeat of numerous plans to increase transportation investments leaves Minnesotans with deteriorating roads, structurally deficient bridges and safety problems that will contribute to traffic crashes. Our state will struggle to provide basic bus service for thousands of residents who rely on it every day. Jobs will be lost as the current construction program is cut by 45 percent and economic development opportunities will be lost as communities wait for needed infrastructure improvements.
“With the defeat of the capital bonding bill, infrastructure needs throughout the state will not be addressed, adding to the cost for taxpayers to eventually deal with needed repairs to publicly owned assets.
“What does the failure to pass a sustainable transportation plan mean? It means important freight corridors like Highways 14, 23, 212 and I-94 between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud will not be completed. It means that safety problems on Highway 12 will not be addressed right away. It means that bridges waiting to be repaired or replaced will continue to wait. It means that Minnesotans will have a harder time getting where they need to go as close to 1 million new residents move into the state in the coming decades generating thousands of additional trips on the system every day.”