Transportation, budget will be focus of 2015 legislative session

The Minnesota Legislature’s 2015 session convenes Tuesday, with passage of transportation legislation and a state budget at the top of the agenda.

Transportation – including mass transit as well as highways and roads – is seen as the major unfinished priority from 2014.

Move Minnesota, a coalition of groups that includes organized labor, is pushing for a comprehensive transportation legislation that includes:

  • Reliable roads and bridges
  • Greater accountability and transparency
  • Better transit access
  • Safe, convenient bike and pedestrian choices

“If Minnesota does not fix its transportation system, our economy and ability to create and retain jobs will be at risk,” the coalition said. “Our economy is one of the fastest growing in the country, yet the cost of fixing and upgrading our transportation system cannot be met with current funding. Making smart investments in transportation will ensure Minnesota can compete for jobs and businesses.”

Lawmakers also must pass a two-year budget to fund health, human services, education and many other needs. The job will be easier given a projected $1 billion state surplus.

The final numbers won’t be released until February, but Governor Mark Dayton said he anticipates finding common ground with the Republican-controlled House and DFL-controlled Senate.

“It should make it more possible that we will come out of session on time and without a showdown like we had in 2011,” Dayton said.

Dayton said he plans to meet his Jan. 27 deadline to present his budget to the Legislature. He said his priorities will include a child care tax credit, rural broadband expansion, transportation system upgrades and early childhood education scholarships.