Unions joined businesses, non-profits and local governments today in unveiling a 10-year plan to finance improvements to the state’s highways, bridges and transit systems.
Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders have said transportation will be a top priority during the 2015 session. Move MN, a broad-based, transportation-focused coalition of more than 200 groups, jumped right into the fray, pitching its proposal at a Capitol press conference on the session’s third day.
Move MN’s “10-Year Transportation Commitment Proposal” would generate an estimated $856 million annually with “modest increases” in fees and taxes that currently fund the state’s transportation system.
The average Minnesota driver, according to Move MN, would pay about $1.60 more per week as a result of the increases, with Twin Cities residents paying an extra $1.30 per week as a result of a Metro-county sales tax hike, dedicated mostly to expanding public transit. Businesses would pay roughly $900 more per semi-truck annually under the plan.
To justify the cost, transportation advocates pointed to Minnesota Department of Transportation statistics showing more than 65 percent of the state’s roads and 40 percent of its bridges will be more than 50 years old by 2025. Over the same time frame, freight semi-truck traffic is projected to increase by 30 percent, and the state will have 430,000 additional residents.
State officials’ own estimates indicate Minnesota faces a transportation-funding gap of well over $1.5 billion annually.
“Everyone agrees that an efficient, reliable transportation system is essential to Minnesota’s economic competitiveness,” Move MN co-chair Margaret Donahoe said in a press release. “But by 2025, Minnesota’s entire transportation system will be on life support as congestion, reliability and safety concerns put our state’s long-term economic health at risk.”
Unions and labor federations supporting the Move MN coalition include the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council, the Minnesota AFL-CIO, AFSCME Council 5, the SEIU Minnesota State Council, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189 and others.