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Minnesota House passes $7 billion transportation budget

(The Center Square) –The Minnesota House passed a Transportation Budget bill on a vote of 112-21.

The legislation aims to fund trains, planes, buses, and road safety improvements.

“Minnesotans expect us to improve and maintain our transportation system because it keeps us safe, creates good jobs in a time of economic recovery, and gives all people and communities the opportunity to grow and prosper,” House Transportation Chair Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a statement.

The budget would invest $57.5 million in arterial Bus Rapid Transit, fund a 2nd daily train to Chicago, reopen driver’s exam locations closed due to COVID-19, and ends driver’s license suspensions for certain non-public safety offenses. Suspensions for public safety infractions such as DUIs, reckless driving, habitual offenders would remain.

Lawmakers pushed the bill through just six days before state contractors would have to shutter road projects if a budget wasn’t passed.

Minnesota Department of Transportation Communications Director Jake Loesch told The Center Square after the 2011 government shutdown, it took four years to settle all contractor claims, costing taxpayers an additional $35 million.

It includes:

  • $13.3 million for state Capitol security, including additional state troopers
  • $7.2 million for Minnesota State Patrol body cameras for troopers on highways and at the Capitol
  • $11 million for a second daily Amtrak train between St. Paul and Chicago
  • $516 million for highway debt service

The bill would order a study of the Northstar commuter line by Feb. 1, 2023, after ridership dropped 96% during the COVID-19 pandemic but not end the service— a Republican priority.

“Minnesotans deserve a reliable, sustainable, and equitable transportation system that ensures we can efficiently move goods and people throughout the state,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement. “While there is more work to be done to ensure we have a modern and efficient transportation system over the long term, our final budget makes needed investments in roads, bridges, rail, and transit across Minnesota.”

The budget also seeks to allocate $16.9 million to school to traffic safety for schools, including installing cameras on school bus stop arms to enforce stop-arm violations.

What’s not in the budget is reducing Metro Transit fare evasion citation to the same level as parking tickets penalties, a DFL priority.

Here’s a spreadsheet of the full spending.

Remaining disputes include police accountability and funding. Lawmakers must pass a budget by June 30 to avoid a government shutdown.


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