Editorial: Transit must be funded for improvements

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 30, 2005

When you get a coalition as varied as business leaders, transportation industry officials, environmentalists and road builders in agreement on an issue, something is going on.

These groups came together in recent years to campaign for increased spending on roads and transit in Minnesota.

And, according to a recent Associated Press story, next year will be a crucial one in this effort.

Email newsletter signup

In 2006 Minnesota voters will get a chance to register their opinion on the issue of whether the state should amend the Constitution to guarantee additional funds for transportation.

Voters will be able to decide if taxes from vehicle sales should be solely for transportation rather than split evenly between roads and transit and other state spending, as it currently is.

Transportation has long been building as a crucial issue for the state. It isn’t just the metro area residents stuck in gridlock traffic on their way home to the suburbs from work. It’s also the infrastructure and highways of outstate Minnesota &045; our vital links for shipping and receiving goods.

The need for more roads and increased transit options has been building for some time. Because the state gas tax hasn’t been raised since the 1980s, the revenue it raises has lost buying power. And, Minnesota has grown considerably over the past several decades, putting even more pressure on our existing transportation system.

Earmarking the vehicle sales tax exclusively for transportation should bring in about $300 million more in transportation funding. That’s still short of the estimated $750 million to $1.25 billion the state falls short of annually in order to meet existing transportation needs.

But it’s a start. We urge voters to learn more about the importance of next year’s vote. Improving transportation for all of Minnesota is vital for future growth.

&045; The Daily Journal (International Falls)