Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tranist Bill Needs Show of Support

A very important transit bill is in jeopardy at the Legislature, and I’m hoping that you will take action to convince your State Representative to support it.

If it passes, this bill will make it possible for our metropolitan region to make long-term investments in transit, including:
  • Increasing bus service by 4% 
  • Ensuring that we can build 3 new Light Rail lines
  • Putting Bus Rapid Transit on 4 highway corridors
  • Creating 12 higher-amenity “Enhanced Bus” routes, likely including Route 21
  • Providing $50 million per year for metro-area cities and counties to address local needs, including accessibility enhancements, safer sidewalks, and bicycle routes.
This bill is supported by over 50 organizations, including Transit for Livable Communities and the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Quite simply, the Twin Cities metro region is falling behind on transit. A metro-wide sales tax is the way that nearly all US regions fund transit – and it’s one of the reasons that other regions have made significantly more progress on transit than we have.
I have heard from State Representative Jim Davnie, who represents most of Seward and all of Longfellow, that he is not yet supportive of this bill. I have a great deal of respect for Jim and one thing he mentioned to me is that he has not seen a broad base of support for this this year. I think that there is strong community support for this bill, but obviously we need to show it more clearly. To do that, all of us who support this stable funding source for better public transit in the metro area need to make our voices heard.
If you agree with me and you live in District 63A, please consider emailing Representative Davnie to ask him to support this bill: .
There are legitimate arguments against this bill, but I do not find them persuasive.
Yes, sales taxes are more regressive than income taxes. But the impacts of cuts to transit service, inadequate transit service and fare hikes also fall inordinately on the working poor.
Yes, this sales tax will be borne by the metro region and not the state as a whole. But outstate Minnesota is very unlikely to ever accept a sales tax to fund metro-area transit. Sticking to this principle means that we will never have stable, adequate funding for transit.
Yes, this funding will be walled off from the state’s general fund, but that’s a good thing. When transit funding is commingled with the general fund, it becomes a tempting target for Republican governors and legislatures to make budget cuts at the expense of transit riders. And having no constant, stable, predictable revenue means that we can’t properly plan for building out our transit network because projects take longer to implement and are much more vulnerable to stalling.

And yes, there are many worthwhile priorities this year, from balancing the budget to clean energy legislation. But this bill can happen now, and if it doesn’t happen now, we will have missed the best opportunity to fund transit that we’ve seen in more than a generation, and the Twin Cities will continue to fall behind.

I believe that a vote against this bill is a vote against transit. It’s as simple as that. And our legislators should be on the forefront of supporting and improving transit, bicycling and walking, not holding us back. If you agree with me, and live in 63A, please get in touch with Representative Davnie.


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