The State Legislature and Governor Dayton have been talking some about transportation funding this year. While the primary focus is funding for Twin Cities transit and statewide roads and bridges, a bill could also provide the first-ever dedicated state funding for walking and biking.
But there is plenty of work to happen before that becomes a reality. Read on for the situation and how you can help. This week is go time!
Earlier this year, the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition took our first-ever legislative position--in support of a comprehensive package of transit, biking, and walking funding promoted by the Transit for a Stronger Economy Coalition. That proposal was turned into a bill sponsored by Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis), which was one of several transportation finance proposals offered. It would provide about $50 million a year for local governments for biking, walking, and transit investments and an additional $282 million for transit in the Twin Cities and the rest of the state. It used a metro area sales tax increase as the funding mechanism--as has been proposed by Governor Dayton and used in many other regions aroung the country. That bill was heard in both the House and Senate and left for possible inclusion in the "omnibus transportation finance bill," which is being finalized this week.
The omnibus transportation finance bill is quite messy right now (a technical term!) because of differences of opinion about if and how to fund roads and bridges (some details in this Star Tribune story). Before the messiness, it was looking likely that some significant dedicated funding for biking and walking would be included in the bill (along with transit and roads). Advocates are still fighting for a bill with new transit, road, and bike/walk funding and that could still very much happen this year.
What you can do
Want to help support a once-in-a-generation opportunity for transportation funding and first-ever state funding for biking and walking? Here are a few things you can do:
1. Contact Governor Dayton and your Legislators
Governor Dayton: 651-201-3400 or 1-800-657-3717 (or fill out this online form)
Message: Thank you for your great leadership on sales tax funding for Twin Cities transit! I hope that you will support a comprehensive transportation package this year that also includes funding for roads, bridges, biking, and walking.
Find your legislators here or use this easy contact form from Transit for Livable Communities
Message: I strongly support new transportation funding this year to support needed investments in transit, biking, walking, roads, and bridges. Please do what you can to get transportation funding done this year.
2. Do outreach, phone calling, or attend a rally this week
There are opportunities every day this week to make a difference:
Monday, 4-15: Meet up with Mayor Rybak and City Council Members to talk to bus riders downtown. Meet at 3:30 at Minneapolis City Hall on the Light Rail side near the Humphrey statue. Directions and materials will be provide--and you'll get to do it alongside some of our elected officials.
Tuesday, 4-16: Join a Transit for Stronger Economy phone bank from 6-9pm at the United Labor Center (312 Central Ave NE). Register here.
Wednesday, 4-17: Join a transportation rally at 10am at the State Capitol. Details here.
Thursday, 4-18: Meet up with Mayor Rybak and City Council Members to talk to bus riders downtown. Same details as Monday.