Gov. Mark Dayton told Minnesota legislators he was disappointed they had not passed a "comprehensive transportation" bill that increases dedicated long-term funding, even as he signed measures that provide a total of $555 million more for a range of transportation projects.
One was a bill authorizing the issuance of nearly $1 billion in state bonds,
for which the Legislature designated $255 million for specific projects and programs. The other was a two-year transportation appropriations bill that directed $300 million from the state's budget surplus to road and bridge projects.
Dayton, who had proposed a major increase in transportation investments to be partly funded through higher motor fuel taxes, was critical of the Legislature's transportation budget.
"The new funding invested in roads, bridges and transit is
far below the need," he wrote in a letter to House Speaker Kurt Daudt.
The bill also supports state rail and aviation programs.
However, he added, "I acknowledge that this bill does provide a much-needed funding infusion in fiscal years 2018-2019 to maintain our infrastructure so that we can continue to make progress, even though it remains short of addressing the growing gap between resources and transportation system needs."
Among his complaints with the bill, the governor said: "This is not a comprehensive transportation bill, it lacks constitutionally dedicated as well as stable funding and has inadequate funding for transit."
He also cautioned that it relies on funding the Minnesota Department of Transportation partly by issuing $940 million in trunk highway bonds "without new constitutionally dedicated revenue to pay off the bonds."
As a result, Dayton explained, "in future years, should the Legislature reverse or reduce the general fund commitment to roads and bridges, MnDOT would be forced to pay for debt service from sources that are meant for road and bridge construction."
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