A dispute between Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt about funding light rail in the Twin Cities falls woefully short as a reason to nix a special session that would bring tax relief and other huge benefits to all Minnesotans.
The light rail issue is a red herring in this war of words and is being used to create an ideological narrative on the choices voters have this fall. Daudt wants voters to see the GOP as against what he calls wasteful metro area spending projects. Dayton sees light rail mostly for what it is: a metro service that will be paid for by metro taxpayers.
The facts suggest light rail is a rather false narrative for ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats.
In fact, building a light rail line would likely benefit outstate Minnesota taxpayers. The plan would be paid for with a half-cent metro area sales tax. Minnesotans in Blue Earth, Martin, Freeborn and other counties won’t be paying a dime. But if they go to a Twins or Vikings game, they’ll likely get the benefit of avoiding driving through Twin Cities congestion that gets worse every year.
Every time a three-car light rail train is loaded, 600 cars are taken off the highways, according to the Metropolitan Council research. If we don’t build light rail, we’ll expand metro highways to the detriment of outstate highways. One metro bypass can cost nearly $200 million, about two thirds of the cost of completing about 15 miles of Highway 14.