Republicans in the Minnesota House are moving forward with their transportation funding bill, while Democrats like Minneapolis Representative Frank Hornstein warn that money not permanently dedicated can easily be sent somewhere else. Hornstein says, “We’re in decent economic times now — not great, but good. We have a surplus, but the minute things go south, all of this funding is going to be very vulnerable.” Hanka Republican Paul Torkelson responds the plan is not perfect but is a “substantial” transportation bill. He adds, “We need to remember that all these funds come from our taxpayers’ pockets, whether they’re dedicated funds or not.” Hornstein responds to fund transportation projects the bill takes money from schools, nursing homes and seniors programs.
Torkelson responds 35 other states use general fund dollars for part of their transportation funding. He says, “I’ve really been asking myself the question, have dedicated funds in Minnesota helped us effectively fund transportation over time? I think they’ve in some ways made it more difficult.”
North Mankato Democrat Clark Johnson says 300 million dollars in the bill for the “Corridors of Commerce” program is not nearly enough to complete badly-needed projects like the Highway 14 upgrade. Johnson points to his western neighbor saying, “Let’s give New Ulm a four-lane road and see what they really can do. New Ulm’s a remarkably energetic city, but we’re not taking full advantage of their potential, because they do not have a four-lane road out of that town — which is amazing to me.”
Hornstein’s comments on the bill: