In the wild west, trains were robbed by outlaws on horseback. In the Minnesota House, trains are robbed by committee. Missing in this heist could be $380 Million in good paying Minnesota construction jobs and millions in federal transportation funds that Minnesota could lose to other states.
Monday night the Minnesota House Transportation Finance committee on mostly party lines voted to divert the quarter percent sales tax that Twin Cities metro area residents pay to fund light rail to the state’s general fund that pays for buses.
The money would make up for $51 Million in bus operating funds Republicans have proposed cutting, but would come at the expense of not building the central corridor light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said the move would cost jobs and was “stealing” money that the counties had voted to levy on their citizens to pay for the rail line.
McLaughlin called the diversion of money “unprecedented” and said it would put every city on notice that their local sales tax money could be taken over by the state. He said that will lead companies that lend money to cities hike the interest rates they charge.
Testifying were Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, of Hennepin County, Chair of Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), and Chair of (CTIB) Counties Transit Improvement Board), Commissioner Paul Krause, of Dakota County, Vice Chair of CTIB, and Jim McDonough, of Ramsey County.