The Road to Opportunity

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My cousin once told me about a neighbor he had who let the paint fall off the house and never mowed his lawn and wouldn’t fix anything if it broke.

 

Worse yet, this fellow was loaded with money and just didn’t care what his home did to everyone else’s property value.

It’s kind of like our Governor who thinks letting the roads and bridges fall into disrepair is just fine. He doesn’t mind if someone else will pay for it by bonding so future generations will pay, or push it on to local property taxes, or try to talk contractors into fronting the money for the highway 62 Crosstown project.

As a legislator I’ve listened to constituents, county commissioners, and township supervisors tell me that they feel like they are stuck between raising property taxes or letting things get far worse than they already are.

When I met with my Region 6 MN DOT representative, she said the highway 19 project and the other upgrades just can’t go forward because there just isn’t any money. Rep. Bernie Lieder said that without more investment public transit will have to cut back and MN DOT may run out of funds to keep its doors open.

Over the past 20 years we have seen the conditions of our roads, highways, and bridges deteriorate at an alarming rate, and our transit system struggle to stay alive. Some say we need $1.5 billion invested in our transportation system every year simply to stay ahead of congestion and upkeep on our current infrastructure. The result is Minnesotans pay an annual "congestion tax" of $700 per person in wasted time and fuel. We can’t continue down this path we need a solution that squarely addresses our transportation and transit needs.

Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar, the new Chair of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, recently testified that our state is poised to receive $4.3 billion in earmarked federal funds through 2009, but must come up with a 20% state match to receive these dollars. If this match is not met, the money will go to other states. Clearly, we must do something to leverage these federal funds or risk falling further behind in transportation and transit initiatives.

This is why I call our transportation bill ‘The Road to Opportunity Act’.  It contains major funding initiatives for roads and transit. It provides property tax relief.  It increases public safety. It creates jobs. It strengthens our economy.  It saves us millions in maintenance and construction costs down the road.

Doesn’t that sound better that what we have endured lately?  Years of under funding and excess borrowing have hurt our transportation system – delayed projects, deteriorating roads conditions, increased traffic congestion, reduced snowplowing and road maintenance, closed rest areas and the shifting of funds from one account to another to make up for cash flow problems.

The House passed the Road to Opportunity Act a couple of weeks ago.  The Governor has threatened to veto it.  I think you deserve better.  It is hard to imagine the Governor wouldn’t want to join us in cleaning up the neighborhood.  If you agree with me, let him know how important a first-rate transportation system is to your and your family.

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