Today the Minnesota House of Representatives passed legislation that would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. It allocates state general tax revenue related to motor vehicle repair and replacement parts exclusively to fund roads and bridges.
There is no question that we need to do a much better job of funding transportation needs. The problem is that this doesn’t create any new funding source. It will just take money out of our general fund. Right now, Governor Dayton is pleading for more funding for education, the dire need to increase compensation for home health care workers is not on the horizon, and affordable housing is desperately needed. The passage of the amendment means even less money to meet such needs.
In the Transportation Committee, one of the testifiers opposing the amendment said this was the cowards’ way out. And he is right! The legislature has the responsibility to pass a budget. The amendment takes the legislators off the hook. Most of the “YES” votes were by Republicans. This is consistent with the Republican votes over the past decade or so. They want the privilege of being a state representative, but they don’t want to take the tough votes to get the work done that needs to be done for Minnesota. Even when we passed the comprehensive transportation bill in 2008, there were only about five Republicans that finally came forward to vote for the bill. Enough is enough, if Republicans want the job, they should be willing to come up with appropriate legislation and take a vote. That is what governing is all about. Most Minnesotans recognize the need to fund our infrastructure and expect their legislators to get the job done.