House and Senate transportation conferees on Monday unveiled an agreement on an omnibus funding and policy package that would retain a proposed shift of transportation-related revenues from the state’s General Fund toward road and bridge projects.
And, while the delete-all amendment would do away with the House’s proposed deep cuts to metropolitan transit funding that Metropolitan Council officials and transit advocates said would devastate bus and train service, it would also eliminate a metro area transit board dedicated to helping fund the expansion of bus rapid transit and light-rail lines across the region.
The conference committee on HF861 adopted the 137-page amendment during an evening meeting Monday, but took no further action, leaving the conference report open and enabling further negotiations with Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration.Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), co-chair of the committee and sponsor of HF861. He called the agreement “a big step forward.”
The core of the Republican plan to boost spending on roads and bridges remains, proposing the transfer of roughly $328 million in auto-related tax revenues out of the General Fund over the next two years. That’s lower than the $450 million originally proposed in the House omnibus transportation bill, and the $400 million that was proposed in the Senate version.
In all, the proposal would appropriate roughly $5.9 billion in the 2018-19 biennim to fund transportation operations, maintenance and agencies.
Significant borrowing also remains part of the conference committee’s proposal, with $600 million in bonding proposed — $300 million for the Corridors of Commerce program and $300 million for state road construction.
Policy proposals include CTIB, Metropolitan Council changes
Included among significant policy measures in the agreement is language that would dissolve the Counties Transit Improvement Board, a five-county metro board that collects a quarter-cent, transit-dedicated sales tax to help fund expansion of the Twin Cities’ transit system.
Former member counties would be able to impose their own quarter-cent sales tax under the proposal, but would have to seek voter approval to raise the sales tax any higher.
Among other policy pieces proposed in the agreement are those that would:
The state’s latest economic forecast projects a budget deficit of $188 million for the current two-year biennium, and a $586 million deficit for the 2020-21 biennium
The Minnesota Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of the Legislature’s 2018-19 operating budget.
The budget process explained — and why it matters