We remain committed to key transit projects
The 2016 legislative session wrapped up earlier this week – as you may have read in the news, it was a rather chaotic ending to a unique session.
While lawmakers passed a supplemental budget and a tax bill, they failed to pass a bonding or transportation bill. It is immensely disappointing that state lawmakers were unable to find a real, long-term solution for our transportation and transit needs.
We also did not receive funding for our other priorities including: the remaining state share of Southwest light rail project, the remaining state share of Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit project, inflow and infiltration funding, regional parks bonding, and a range of other projects.
I want to reiterate my commitment to moving the SWLRT project and Orange Line BRT project forward. We have been in touch with our SWLRT project partners and will be discussing possible alternate sources of funding in the coming days. SWLRT remains a strong project, with overwhelming support from the communities, businesses and local elected officials along the line, and we are determined to find a solution to keep the project on schedule. We know that Orange Line BRT has also continued to enjoy bipartisan support and has upcoming critical deadlines.
Governor Dayton has indicated he may call for a special session – both Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk have asked him to do so. If the governor does call for a special session, we would continue to advocate for our priorities.
Until we know details about a possible special session, it’s hard to say what the next steps will be.
There is some good news to report from the legislature. The tax bill authorizes the Council to issue $82.1 million in regional transit capital bonds over the next two years. The Council issues regional transit capital bonds to support fleet replacement and other capital needs for all regional transit providers.
Additionally, the supplemental budget bill includes an appropriation to Twin Cities R!SE to fund a new cohort of students as part of Metro Transit’s mass transit technician program. While the tax bill and the supplemental budget bill won’t become law until signed by Governor Dayton, I applaud the legislature for including these provisions.
I thank everyone who has supported these projects and our efforts to advance a strong, economically competitive region. Despite the current status, your voices do matter, so please continue to contact your state lawmakers to share your opinions.