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Real Transportation Investment Moves Forward with Business Help

February 22, 2008 By Conrad deFiebre, Transportation Fellow
In a potentially historic step Thursday, the Minnesota Legislature approved a transportation funding package that would pump significant, sustained new investments into the state's roads, bridges and transit for the first time in 20 years.

The vote in the House of Representatives of 89 to 44 fell one aye short of the two-thirds majority that could override Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto. But six Republicans backed the measure, enough for an override if all progressive lawmakers join in.  The 47-20 Senate vote was more than enough for an override.

A key to the broad support of the measure was backing from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and 42 local area chambers, which dropped their longtime opposition to some of the tax increases that would finance $6.6 billion in new spending over the next decade.

"We understand that our package will not solve all of our transportation problems, but it is very significant progress for our road, bridge and transit systems while being sensitive to the price tag," the state chamber wrote in a letter to House members.

With a few exceptions, the plan is identical to the chambers' own proposal. It calls for phasing in an increase in the gasoline tax of 8.5 cents a gallon, which would be the first such hike in 20 years; higher license tab renewal fees, only on vehicles registered after the new package takes effect - both dedicated solely to roads and bridges -- and a quarter-cent boost in the seven-county Twin Cities general sales tax for transit.

For years, the state chamber has been a major roadblock to transportation investments that are vital to economic growth. Now it is due congratulations for finally backing a funding package that will move Minnesota forward.

"Transportation is a critical issue for Minnesota businesses," the chamber wrote to legislators.  "Chamber members are users of the system - they recognize that it is important for businesses to move freight and other goods efficiently and safely, and for employees to get to work in a timely and safe manner. They also recognize that system improvements come with a price - they just want the price to be a reasonable one, especially so given today's economy."

Update: From nearly every corner of Minnesota, opinion leaders are lining up behind the transportation funding bill passed by the Legislature on Thursday and promptly vetoed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

As the state House, closely divided around the two-thirds threshold for overcoming the veto, prepares for an override vote today, there has been a near-unanimous call for ending 20 years of state gridlock on this vital issue.

The only nay-sayers found in an online search were from the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, the home of No New Taxes No Matter What.

Here's a sampling from the overwhelming majority opinion:

From the West Central Tribune in Willmar: "Minnesota has not made a significant transportation investment for two decades - except to borrow funding by bonding, which requires future repayment ... Bridges are failing and need replacement. Roads are falling apart and need rebuilding. Rural residents are forced to drive unsafe roads. Metro residents and rural businesses are losing productivity due to metro traffic jams. Counties and cities are running out of road and bridge funding. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is out of funding. What more do you need to understand Minnesota's transportation system is on life support and failing? ... It is time for all legislators to demonstrate their commitment on transportation investment, override this veto and pass this transportation bill."

From the Mankato Free Press: "If you think raising the state's gas tax to fix roads and relieve congestion will cost you a lot of money, think again. Failing to raise the gas tax will likely cost you more, up to $1,000 a year more, according to transportation experts. That is the estimated cost of wasted time in traffic, burning more fuel, and fixing repairs to your car more often ... That's why you see business groups, like the Minnesota Chamber, backing the gas tax proposal ... Clearly, this transportation bill will be less costly than doing nothing. Unfortunately, the governor has lost sight of this."

From the Becker County Record: "Minnesota has a serious transportation funding shortage and the blame must be laid squarely at the feet of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Republicans legislators who stand as a block behind him ...The state needs to swallow hard and raise the gas tax - and that's the problem. Pawlenty stubbornly refuses to allow the Legislature to do that. The end result is that he is pig-headedly refusing to take care of a vital piece of the state's business - transportation."

From the St. Cloud Times: "A massive and much-needed transportation package has the support of almost 70 percent of legislators. Seventy percent! Yet a handful of elected officials somehow see themselves and their partisan political agendas as more important than what a large majority of legislators - and, we believe, rank-and-file Minnesotans - know this state needs ... The reality is this bill is an acceptable compromise considering the state's transportation, political and economic climates. It won't solve all the challenges, but it will finally start to push the state toward modernizing its transportation system."

From the Bemidji Pioneer: "Just as Gov. Tim Pawlenty wasted no time on Friday to veto the Legislature's $6.6 billion comprehensive transportation funding package, lawmakers should waste no time on Monday in overriding that veto and start the flow of resources to our roads and bridges without further delay ... The state of our roads and bridges is way beyond playing politics between Democrats and Republicans. Failure to override will probably end any further action this year. A veto has to start in the House, where the bill passed only one vote short of a veto-proof margin, and we urge that now is the time to budge - or rather, bulldoze - the governor off his pledge."

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "The bill the governor vetoed is a reasonable piece of a responsible effort to fix roads and bridges, improve mobility and ease congestion ... It deals directly with public roads and bridges and transit. It raises what are essentially user fees - the gas tax, license tab fees - and authorizes a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax in seven counties of the metro area for transit. It directs $600 million to repair or replace 13 of the state's worst bridges. It includes a "bang for the buck" provision that will lead to more efficiency from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. And it gets the cement trucks rolling ... We urge the Legislature to override the governor's veto. This time, 'no' is the wrong answer."

From Curtis Johnson, former chairman of the Metropolitan Council and chief of staff to Gov. Arne Carlson, in the Star Tribune: "We haven't raised the revenue sources for this vital area of Minnesota infrastructure in 20 years. We've allowed the backlog of work on our transportation to grow to almost $2 billion a year. With the money now available, nearly all of it will have to go to maintaining the system we have, rather than improving capacity ... Fixing this should not be as hard as it appears. Reversing a grim forecast is work we sent legislators to do. They can fix this by insisting on a bold transportation finance solution, or they can let the state slide further into disrepair. They can pass the pending bill that, while it addresses about half the problem, would be progress."

From Ken Warner, president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, in the West Central Tribune: "The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and chambers of commerce across the state, and their thousands of members, support the current transportation funding package ... It's time for Minnesota to put partisan politics aside and vote for what's right for all Minnesotans."

From Paul Anderson, Pope County commissioner, in the Starbuck Times: "With the cost for steel, aggregate, diesel fuel and other materials needed for highway work skyrocketing in recent years, it's no surprise that gas tax dollars - stuck at 1988 levels - cannot keep up. The system has been starved for too long and the effects are showing in crumbling roads and bridges. It's time for our elected officials to lead on this issue and vote for additional funding that will make a difference in the quality of the transportation system here in Central Minnesota."

Will this plan finally become a reality? You tell us. Share your Comments

We'll continue to post your comments.

I hope that this arrogant, selfish and out-of-touch governor sees this veto overridden. He is a continued embarrassment to our state. Arne Carlson looks as good as he ever did-once willing to make tough decisions that better all of us, not just act like suburbanites under a rock.

I have watched the public schools and teachers struggle for years now with cuts in state funding as many Hummers and Escalades roam around Maple Grove driven by smug residents, too self-centered to pay 40.00 a month in additional property taxes to fund our children`s education.

Now we are going to pretend that our roads are "good enough" and we shouldn't worry about mass transit because that only affects the metro. Five cents per gallon on top of 2.99 in order to provide safer roads for our residents is a hardship?
I cannot believe that so many Minnesota residents are willing to accept the continual erosion of Quality of Life here. I an ashamed at the closet racists who blame our troubles on growing diversity,  rather than recognizing the inevitable outcome of not funding basic needs and continuing to offer tax breaks to large corporations, team owners, and the Bill McGuires and Doug Steenlands of the state.

I wish I could get my state rep to realize not all of us are enamored by the taxpayers league and the "youthful governor." We prefer to honestly pay for and plan for a future for our children and neighbors.
Vickie Parks
Maple Grove

My husband and I moved to MN for a number of reasons, chief among them being the quality of life. Our current administration needs to recognize that a transportation system (as well as education, healthcare systems, etc.) that we can be proud of comes with a pricetag.  Most of us Minnesotans think that quality of life is worth paying for.
Bonnie Boese

It's no fun hitting a foot deep chuck hole at 60+mph !!!
Milt Krona
Chisago City

Without a permanent, reliable funding mechanism, we're building a new light rail line every 15 to 20 years.  At this rate, it will take at least a century to build the metropolitan rail system the Twin Cities Region needs.  In that time, other cities like Denver, Dallas, Seattle and Portland will have finished their rail systems long since and moved on to other pressing public infrasturcture need.  We should have had a metro area sales tax dedicated to transit improvements 30 years ago.  Better late than never, I say. Let us pray that our Legislature will override Pawlenty's foolish veto of their transportation bill.
Bill Graham

I am hopeful that the veto will be overridden.  My husband and I are retired and live on a fixed income.  However, we still support a gas tax for transportation.  We have no choice but to use our vehicle to visit my mother who is ill in a Moorhead nursing home.  We have to use the highway system and want it maintained without going into bonding debt for our children and grandchildren.  The current mass transportation (bus)alternatives to us to get from Rochester to Moorhead would take more than twice as much travel time, and cost much more than paying for gas.  This does nothing to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.  I would be very disappointed and would work to replace our legislators if they voted against a veto override!
Barbara Baker

I think it is about time that adequate funding go towards roads and bridges and transportation.  This business of being against any taxes for important infrastructure that this governor is ----has got to end.  Repairs have been needed for a long time.
Dick Pingel

The transportation bill can become reality if, and only if, it is framed as an investment by doing a cost-benefit analysis. Supporters need to compare the costs of our present system (weakened economy, lower gas mileage, lost time, etc) with the benefits this investment will create. Reframing it as an investment will take the thunder out of the naysayers' argument that this is just another partisan tax and spend scheme.
David Culver

It's time to set the credit cards and partisanship aside, and commit to a plan for future generations.  No one likes taxes, but they like to drive on safe and well maintained roads.
David Wells

We need the MN State Legislature to override Pawlenty's veto!
Sandra Erickson
St. Paul

I hope this measure survives the veto.  We desperately need transportation funding for roads and bridges, as well as public transportation.  I will contact my representatives, but I'm sure they've all voted for it.
Ron Gerdes
St. Paul

I favor passage of the bill in question.
Mary C. Van Evera

At last a transportation funding bill that taxes all Minnesotans and not just the 10% who pay 60% of the taxes in this state. A use tax is a fair tax, and 100% of citizens use the transportaton infrastructure in one way or another. However, money is available for roads, bridges and even light rail, without raising taxes if only the legislature tightened its belt and prioritized spending.
Bernie Bauhof

Tim Pawlenty is an embarrassment to the City of Eagan.  I can only hope that our State Rep, Lynn Wardlow (R-38B) will be brave enough this time to break with the GOP and vote to override the veto. Please take a moment to let Rep Wardlow you would like him to vote to override.
Rachel Lewine

I sincerely hope that the Governor's veto is overrided.  We need to invest in transportation.
Gloria Anderson
St. Paul

It is a crime that the Republicans have let our state fall down to the poor roads we have.  We need foresigit for our future to go forward and have a State to compete in the future.
Lowell Anderson
Clara City

It's time for the Bush worshippers to get over the idea that we never need to raise taxes. It's time to bite the bullet and pay as we go and not leave a huge burden for our kids to pay.I hope our legislators in Rochester will help override our Governors veto.
David Bakken

The time to invest in our infrastructure is way past due and is the reason our economy is suffering.  We need to invest in our transprotation infrastructure and then do the same for education if we really want to improve the economy in MN.
Donald Schuld

I am sceptical as to whether or not legislators will have the courage to override Gov. P's veto, although I hope they do. The job ahead to modernize and repair our transit systems is incredibly large, so let`s get started now!!!
Shirley Jackson
Arden Hills

On the KMSP 9pm broadcast on Feb. 22, Gov. Pawlenty's spokesman, in an attempt to explain why the governor vetoed the transportation bill, referred to Minnesota taxpayers as "Mr. Joe Sixpack and Mrs. Sixpack."  In as much as Gov. Pawlenty's spokesman speaks for the governor, I assume that this is how Mr. Pawlenty views the Minnesota population. How arrogant to assume that the Minnesota taxpayer fits the image of "Joe Sixpack"!
Judith Westergard

Of course this transpotation bill should pass & become law.  Just think of all the much needed jobs it would create.  Do we have any DFLers voting against this bill, if we do they better think again as should any right thinking republicans.  I would be very happy to work to defeat any one not voting for the passage & for over riding backward thinking governor Pawlenty.  Why on earth should this be in a bonding bill so our kids & grand kids have to pay for it? That thinking is very poor public policy.
Charles Rike
Pine City

I absolutely support this bill. Our country must rebuild its infrastructure. We must invest in a proactive way in our streamline transportation as well as to promote the development of new sources of energy for our state, nation, and world. We are in crisis mode. We must be visionaries in order to save our city, state, country, world.
Nancy Marcy

Gov. Pawlenty unfortunately is not speaking for Minnesota.
Robert Vilt

My only problem with the recently passed Transportation Bill is that it doesn't raise the gasoline tax high enough to even begin to:

1)provide the funds really needed for infrastructure repair or

2) act as a deterrent to our ever increasing hunger for gasoline that could eventually lead us to get serious about implementing alternatives to transit by individually directed internal combustion engine i.e. automobile.

The regressive nature of the gasoline tax is being addressed in the current bill and we could continue to apply this principal to a truly meaningful gasoline tax increase in the range of 30-60 cents/gallon to ease the burden for those caused actual hardship by such a tax increase. Sooner or later we will have to come to grips with the true cost to our society of our present transportation systems.
Bob Storlie

We have been giving tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations in Minnesota for too long. Our schools, cities, roads and bridges are suffering because of it. It is time to renew the taxes on these groups.
Cathy Buxy

Remember shortly after the 35W bridge collapsed a poll found a majority of Minnesotans opposed to increasing taxes to pay for roads and bridges.  I have for years argued that we must pay the cost of maintaining our infrastructure or we will be forced to pay the price of its demise.  All that time the arguments I heard are that we are over taxed, there is too much waste in government and we can get toll roads with out raising taxes.  Then even after the 35W bridge tragedy Minnesotans don't want to pay.  Those voices of the right trumpeting their romantic fantasy of the rugged individualist have worn away most sense of building the common good.  Maybe after the next bridge collapse we won't even come to each others aid.
Reino Paaso

If the carpet in my home wears out or gets damaged, I have to PAY to have it replaced.  Likewise, if our bridges and roads wear out, we as citizens of this great state have to PAY. No one likes taxes, obviously, but this is a reality.

It is too simplistic to simply say "cut welfare" or "cut light rail.  Sign the bill, Governor.
Karla Haben

How can just a few people hold up the necessary funds for roads, transit, etc?  I hope they grow up soon!
Marilyn Wehler

This issue is not about who supports solidifying our infrastructure. Both Republicans and Democrats wish to see this happen. It IS a question of what money will be used. Taxes are not the answer. There is enough money in the state coffer to get the job done. I urge legislators to focus their attention on areas of wasteful spending and reallocate funds to cover the transportation needs. Stop increasing taxes and start responding to the majority of Minnesotans.
Dan DeBruyn

The transportation package simply addresses a neglected area of our state's business.  Most people are quite willing to pay what it takes to make our transportation systems more safe, modern, and energy efficient.  It's nonsense to think that these necessities can somehow be taken care of without our pooling our resources as citizens to care for one another.  I would rather contribute a fair amount of money to this effort than witness more bridge collapses or watch Minnesota decline to a second-tier state.  If low taxes were the greatest good, we`d all be clambering to move to Mississippi.
Jean Lewandowski

I will be voting against my Legislator if he or she voted for that bill.
Russ Dunlop

I can no longer encourage my children to stay in Minnesota as they embark on careers. The infrastructure is failing, and ultimately their health and safety will be negatively impacted.

We need to pass this bill to keep young people in our state  . . .  nobody, especially those who need to commute to jobs daily, wants to live where roads are crumbling.
Renee Murray
Lake Elmo

My first impression is, it's enough to get started but not enough to do the whole job.  I really appreciate that the Democrats worked with some Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce to put together a proposal that the vast majority of our citizens can support.
David Thompson

I live in Minnesota, and drive on the roads and over the bridges. I want those amenities of modern life to be maintained properly, and I want Gov. Pawlenty and our legislators to understand that I want to PAY FOR IT NOW! Yes, I want us all to shoulder the burden, and suffer a bit of a tax increase, in order that we not fall neither the Mississippi, nor a pothole on 394. I don't care for the idea of pawning the responsibility off on the tots of today, either-- and I don't even HAVE tots. I feel we should pay as we go, and it's quite clear that we can afford to do it, if the governor would just admit that it has to be done, and that we need to act like civilized people who work for the common good, not a loose alliance of "me first" cavemen who want to prevent anyone else from getting a bite of their personal mastodon. The governor has been beguiled by the Taxpayers League for long enough. I'd like to know if members of the Taxpayers League are driving on OUR roads... and if so, what their plan is for maintaining them. Perhaps they feel that, since we all know best how to spend our money, interested parties should just take it upon themselves to do a bit of volunteer repair work on the state's transportation needs.
Maria Jette

I support the gas tax increase, particularly to pay back accumulated transportation debt, but will "just say no" to any constitutional earmark proposals.  I voted no to the 2006 amendment that, unfortunately, passed anyway.  The legislature and governor need to resolve these issues without passing the lawmaking/revenue raising buck to the voters.
Kurt Anderson

I am so pleased and excited that Minnesota may come out of the "dark ages" of Pawlenty's backward administration and domination by an affluent Taxpayers League (the irony of that name) and into a Renaissance that will mean a better quality of life for Minnesota's citizens--not a select few.
Frieda Wilson

I support a gas tax or an addition to my MN income tax that will go to support transportation.  I both own a car and ride the bus and light rail.  My out of state guests used to comment on the wonderful condition of our highways.  I feel we no longer have highways and streets to be proud of. I'd like that we do.
Mary Johnson

I hope the Legislature can override Pawlenty's veto.  While I do not agree to raising the sales tax (it's regressive), raising the gas tax is overdue (a user tax, where it belongs).  Nevertheless, Minnesota has to get moving, that does cost money, and therefore I support this bill.  Pawlenty's plan to finance transportation with a debt financing just avoid facing reality.
Axel Kornfueher

Affordable and usable public transportation would be a far better move, rather than foster personal vehicle traffic that wastes fuel and drivers' energy.  How nice to ride a train to work, as do the French.  And many Chicagoans, for instance.
Mickey Shell
Grand Marais

This should have happened years ago, but shortsightedness and "politics" got in the way.  No one wants higher taxes.  But even as a retired person with limited income, I'd rather pay more than have another bridge fall down, continue to destroy the environment when mass transit could go far in solving the problem, and leave a burden on my grandchildren.  And the longer we put this off, the more expensive it will become.  The governor just wants to be able to say he's saved everyone from higher taxes!
Corinne Livesay
White Bear Lake

I think even the republicans, except the governor know this is the way we should go. In my opinion he doesn't show any judgement in what is good for our state on this issue nor health care, education etc. We need this bill rather than his borrowed money for the next generations to have to pay back with intrest.
Christeen Stone
St. Paul

For heaven sakes, it's time to let go of the darn veto pen and save the state from becoming a bottom dweller! What was once the "Minnesota Miracle" has become the "Minnesota Malaise"! Take off that darn Teflon suit, Governor Pawlenty, and help pull us out of this quagmire! I'm not crazy about paying taxes, but I can put 2 and 2 together. I'll bite the bullet to help improve our quality of life. Will you?
Susan Reppe
Apple Valley

The Minnesota Chamber has never understood how to actually support a healthy business climate.  They certainly do not act in the best interests of average Minnesotans.  Finally in the face of the 35W bridge collapse, the Wakota Bridge mismanagement debacle, the crosstown financing fiasco and the State Auditors indictment of our entire transportation system they have realized their past positions on transportation funding have come with severe costs to Minnesota businesses.  Continued support of Pawlenty's inadequate transportation funding with borrowed money was becoming difficult for the Chamber to sell to member businesses.  Watching company trucks idling in front of the Wakota bridge every day apparently was doing little for the bottom line.  Even the Chamber was able to grasp that fact.

Pawlenty's dwindling support in the legislature will eventually result in a worthwhile transportation bill, even if it will have to wait for another year.  If the Republicans are successful in sustaining Pawlenty's veto the democrats will undoubtedly have a veto proof majority in 2008.  The vast majority of Minnesotans understand the magnitude of our transportation problem and the tough choices to be made in how to finance it.  Even though Pawlenty refers to the average taxpayer as "Joe Sixpack and Mrs. Sixpack", I believe the collective intelligence of Minnesotans can transcend such language and participate in a rational discussion of where these revenues might originate.  I also believe that they can comprehend the benefits of a healthy system with highways, buses and commuter rail working to stimulate business expansion and a better quality of life.

As we watch Pawlenty morph into a pitiful tool of the Taxpayers League brandishing veto pens and veto stamps we can only wonder what a Governor with a healthier vision of Minnesota's future might be able to accomplish.  Instead of using Joe Sixpack as a tool of the anti tax lobby he might engage the unlimited Minnesota potential of Joe Can Do.
William Pappas

I am sick to death with the fight over public transportation.  There should not be a fight.  If Minnesota wants to accomplish the goals that have been set by the state, we do not have a choice.  We have to have a decent transportation system in the Twin Cities if you want citizens to be able to work and pay taxes, especially in Minneapolis where our property taxes have gone up by 71% since 2003.
Josephine Vaughn

We need  to spend money on infrastructure but I feel that it is just a little unfair to tax people extra for not using pubic transportation if none is available to us.

To deal with this, I think that people who live where bus or train alternatives are available to them should be taxed at the pump more than those who don't have that option when they fill up.  BUT, if people use the bus or train, they should be able to use their cancelled tickets as coupons to save on the tax on gas that they purchase when they do purchase gas for their vehicles.  Nothing is totally fair, but this would be a way of not punishing rural people for not living within reach of regular public transport.

Another suggestion is that access hubs for bus and hopefully eventually light rail or PRT service would be best operated between centers for shopping and office complexes so people can park their car and access the urban transport system but return to the same shopping locations where there is ample parking and stores to shop and eat before returning home.  No more being picked up from a snow bank and dropped off in a puddle in the middle of nowhere!  I'd like to be able to access transport this way.

Thanks for the opportunity to offer these suggestions.
Georgiana Allan

With the overall condition of our bridges and highways, I feel it best that we finance this on a pay as you go basis vs solely by bonding. Please keep working to override the govenors veto.
Luther Schmidt

The governor's "No New Investments" policy is a disaster. If we do not improve our transportation infrastructure, bridges will fall down and people will get killed.
Henry Helgen

The last time the Governor vetoed the gas tax it should have been at 38 cents per gallon in order to keep up with inflation since 1988. By not letting the people that use the roads pay for using them we all get to pay extra for things like the PROPERTY TAX and reductions in other services.  If he thinks that borrowing is the way to pay for for necessary items then we will pay more then the original price because of the INTEREST.
Robert St Marie

I'd like the transportation bill to become law.  I hope there is an override of the veto.
Audrey Warrus

The proposed Transportation Bill is over the top; it should be scaled back and not include a sales tax rise.
Ken Yeager
Arden Hills

It's about time - our system is so antiquated, polluting - holding businesses back. Encouraging people to drive ancient horrible cars that create more pollution. We are way behind in public transportation for two cities of our size - I am only sorry that the very poor will feel the tax rise most - glad you have that $25 rebate in there for low income. It is time the Rich took some part in creating The Commons in this  state -creating all the things that we ALL  share and benefit from.
Frances Ford
St. Paul

I lobbied for this bill last fall and explained to our State Senator and State Representative that rural community leaders had grown weary of picking up the paper each morning and many times having to read of tragic deaths in the rural areas.  The legislature in the past few years has lowered the DUI limit and strenthened the seat belt law.  Local prpoerty taxes are being used to assist with critical intersections that involve state highways.  We asked at the time if we could not be a part of the soloution.  Give us a sales tax option  for our local voters to at least consider highway and other transit improvements.  This will not bring back the lives lost but at least we can try to prevent future tragidies such as the one that happened in the rural area northwest of Rochester that took two great people this winter.  In outstate Minnesota we have learned that our road infrastructure has had a great deal to do with lives lost.  Continued lives lost in the 500 plus range each year is simply too much.  The aforementioned improvements have not statistically significantly reduced lives lost.  We need another tool in the tool kit and that is improved road infrastructure!
Michael Schultz
City Councilor
Red Wing

Gas taxes should be much higher. We need to reduce the carbon emissions to a net of zero.
Terrence Joyce

On the topic of diversion of gasoline tax revenue to non-highway uses, it is my understanding that currently about $16 million/yr is being diverted to support off-road motorized recreation. If this is correct, what is to prevent other diversions? And, shouldn't mass transit be a more appropriate application of diverted funds?
Robert Dana

The transportaion bill should become law. I hope the legislature will vote to overrided Pawlenty's veto. I believe this is the third year in a row that he has vetoed the transportation bill. One can ignore our transportation needs for only so long without serious consequences.
Sharon Grimes

It is past time to address our road and bridges and I am willing to pay the additional gas tax.  Please get off the no more tax kick.  It is not realistic.
David J. Dunn

I really hope they can override the veto. I believe there are two Democrats who voted no. So, they need to be convinced also. And I worry that the six Republicans won't hold. That they will back down. I hope not. Twenty years is far too long to have ignored the reality that time doesn't stop, populations grow and change, environmental issues grow and become critical. We are all in this together and we have to be willing to sacrifice for the common good.
Sandra Baines

If the transportation bill veto is overridden those voting against the over ride in both parties will be targeted for defeat in November.  It appears that Republican party planners are looking at delaying endorsing conventions until after the over ride vote.
Michael Fratto
St. Paul

About time we thought and planned for the future.
James Stitt

I hope the override is successful, but I am fearful that Tim/Marty will hold sway over their caucus and sustain the veto, and them whine about lack of compromise knowing that their definition of compromise is capitulating.
Al Kruse

I think Governor Pawlenty should veto this bill and the senators and representatives should support him and start thinking about what good they can do for the people besideds tax  us to death.  The legislators for the past 40 years have not taken care of the roads but they feel they can spend money all at once to fix a 40 year problem.  Forget light rail.
Anita Sandborgh
Cottage Grove

Republicans should be ashamed to make the children pay for transit improvements by borrowing their future. Please override the veto and give a Keynesian boost to the slumping MN economy!
William Thomas
St. Anthony

The oil companies are having a heyday with their huge profits. Why not tax their profits 25% before paying their stockholders to help road improvement & bridge repair. There is no one on God's earth that needs to make that kind of money and bragg the way they do.
Calvin White

I've spent most of my life in Minnesota, where I grew up. But I've lived all over the world. People who spend an hour a day going to work and an hour home can't imagine the ease and comfort of having mass transit.  Everywhere I've lived outside of Minnesota has had excellent commuter trains and buses. Going to work was simple and direct--and we didn't need multiple cars. Will the transportation funding bill cost you money? Yes, but not nearly as much as our current means of commuting to work. Let's join the civilized world and make sensible choices. Support public transportation.
David Brunet

Things will only get worse (more killer collapsing bridges?) if we don't get moving now.  Override Pawlenty's veto!  We can't keep borrowing the money.  And we can't ignore the need any more, no matter who  has starry-eyed Vice President dreams in mind.
Steve Mark

THANK YOU Governor Pawlenty for using the veto pen! I was born and raised in MN and love my state, but we are overtaxed to the breaking point!  Lets pray that your veto stands. Thanks again.
Bill Lundquist

I wonder, if the governor's daily commute included crossing one of the bridges with the same design as the I35 bridge, would he still feel the same as he does now?
Bruce Halverson
Sauk Centre

Gov. Pawlenty,
How disillusioning it was to see you touting your red pen as you premeditated vetoes on upcoming legislative bills.  Please allow the transportation bill to pass--at least there will be one good thing that we can remember about your "current occupancy."
Linda Hinz

Do NOT override this veto UNLESS Minneapolis residents get to vote on it. This would be the 2nd significant tax increase recently imposed on Minneapolis taxpayers recently without their approval - the 1st was the stadium tax. Outstate voters may get to vote on this. City residents should too. The increase would mean an additional expense of about $70/year for me since I drive to work in St. Paul from South Minneapolis daily. Unless I quit my job, this would not be an expense I could avoid. Enough is enough.
Ann Berget

Governor! Fix the roads and bridges! (sign the bill!) We are an older couple, have raised children and grandchildren in Minneapolis, have a small business and a counseling practice in Minnesota.  We are outraged that you choose not to fix our infrastructure.
Mary Conroy

Unless politicians stop trying to look "tough and responsible" on holding the line on taxes, nothing will change, unfortunately.  Suffering caused from increased taxes will pale in comparison to suffering resulting from global warming, collapsing bridges and the continual and increasing expense of "patching of our infrastructure."  And guess what next generation, its all yours.  Our gift.  Republican lackeys, get real!
Corinne Livesay
White Bear Lake

This transportation funding is vital to the continued economic recovery of the state.  The movement of goods and people safely and efficiently is one of the stability issues a state needs to maintain economic health.
Lonni McCauley
Coon Rapids

I definitely am in favor of the passage of the transportation bill.  We have to start taking care of our state's infrastructure, schools, etc.  I am OK with the gas tax.
Beth Monke
Fergus Falls

Do any studies take in to the effect the retirement of the baby boomers  will have on transportation?  As costs increase I see many of the financial troubled boomers driving less which will help the environment but will lessen the amount of revenue available for transportation.
John Lilleberg

This country is dying due to cancer of the infrastructure.  When will we finally figure out that the glorious America we are striving to achieve is the America of the past? The America that put first, its schools and roads and hospitals and people.  The America where folks were proud to pay taxes to support the common good because they believed that a nation's strength was not determined by how many international conflicts it supervised but by how well its people lived at home.
Margie Walsh

Thanks for your update.  I emailed Reps. Neil Peterson of Bloomington and Heidgerken of Freeport.  I urged them to accept the courage to vote in opposition to TPaw, their Party Leader.
Mark Thorshell
Golden Valley

Please pass the bill and if needed override the veto.  Investing in necessary infrastructure takes vision, and courage.  We need both from our leaders and from our citizens.  Too often we don`t have enough from our citizens and as a result leaders who lead by putting a finger to the political wind do not have enough courage to do what is needed.
Phil Ledermann
St. Paul

Shame on you, Pawlenty! Fix our bridges!
Sophia Jett

Thank you Governor Pawlenty for giving this bill the veto pen.  Minnesota is taxed enough. If you need to raise revenue for roads and bridges simply divert money from wasteful welfare programs and light rail.  This would be a great start!
Erik Strakman

I've lived in Minnesota most of my life.  Part of the time I was out of our State I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia in the late 90's.  When I was there a subway station had just collapsed and the roads were dangerously full of potholes and exposed brick and metal under-layers.  As a taxpayer in one of the richest countries in the world, I'm angry that Minnesota roads at present are a lot like those Northern Russian roads and crumbling infrastructure in 1997.  I am sorely disappointed that Governor Pawlenty is more interested in showcasing his little red pen than in addressing urgent concerns of my State.  The state of our roads demands a response this year.  I hope that our legislators see the urgency of this bill and override the Governor's veto for the real protection of taxpayers like myself.
Tovah Flygare

Considering the dual realities of global warming and peak oil, spending money on additional roads is an expense rather than an investment.  Progressives should be pushing for a shift from road building to road maintenance and for all new infrastructure to be transit. 

The gas tax is a carbon tax and as such should be raised.  Indeed, gasoline should be subject to the general sales tax plus a hefty carbon tax -- one that not only pays for the full cost of infrastructure, maintenance and enforcement, but one that also one that begins to compensate for the cost of wars to obtain and maintain access to oil and to compensate for the environmental and economic damage done.

No more subsidies from the general fund to a horribly inefficient and damaging transportation system!  No more property tax subsidies!  Let's start getting serious about facing the stark reality of our situation and make some real changes, rather than setting up "progressive" think tanks to support the status quo and to follow along in the governor's effort to gut every other state program in order to protect the interests of his wasteful suburban constituency.
Randy McLaughlin
Red Wing

It is high time for Minnesotans to bite the bullet and repair our broken infrastructure. Our Governor seems more interested in pursuing his national aspirations than tending to essential business in his own backyard.
Don Hogle

Let's get moving again - in LRT, buses, and our cars!  Spending 43 hours each year in traffic wasting gas (plus the wear-and-tear on my car) costs money, too!

With gas prices fluctuating $1+ per gallon from week to week, what`s a few extra pennies more?  I'd love my family to get down to one car - reducing our expenses, air pollution and our trade deficit to foreign oil producing nations!
Gail Balego
St. Paul

Sales taxes are *NOT* progressive. They are too high already, especially in areas like Minneapolis where they are subsidizing billionaire sports owners, a badly managed money-losing convention center. And then the DFL put a proposal on the ballot to raise the sales taxes even more in support of recreational killing of wildlife and to create unaccountable dependence on subsidy in the arts.

None of this is progressive! None of it is good public policy! Pawlenty is right on at least part of this.

Transportation funds should be raised from users with fuel taxes and this bill does not raise the fuel taxes enough to cover the need or give incentive to reduce fuel usage.
Jeremy Nichols

Let's hope one more Progressive Republican will be willing to help override the governor's veto on this much-needed transportation bill!
Anne Desmond
South Haven

I certainly am in favor of the Transportation Bill.  It is long overdue.  I hope the House can get the needed votes to override the veto of  the governor.
Barbara Dettle

This seems like a modest approach, couple this with a nonbracketed progressive tax structure which doesn't start until 3x what it costs to live and the net impact would be better infrastructure, public transportation and almost no impact on those who can least afford to pay.
Ronald Vormwald

I strongly support the transportation bill and hope legislators can override the veto.
Leanna Erickson

The legislature should have assigned all the funding to the metro area.  The governor would be sure to sign that.  He`s happily increased our taxes in the past.
Georgia Wegner

Ahhh, Minnesota, the land of 10,000 potholes. What is 5 cents a gallon when all you have to do is hit one of those bad boys at freeway speed and total your vehicle! How much will that cost? Think also of the  waste of time sitting in traffic, and hideous fumes while waiting for rush hour (s) to ease up, wasting petrol as you sit there. Think long term, my friends.
Cynthia Noren

I haven't often had positive things to say about political positions of the Chambers of Commerce, but I honor them for coming to reality on this issue.  I don't know who the two Democrats were who voted against it, but I hope they come around and Republican supporters hold in time to override the veto of the gov. of whom we've had P'lenty.
Lou Schoen
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