Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

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twincitizen
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Minnesota Transportation Funding (General)

Postby twincitizen » May 10th, 2013, 4:36 pm

They're debating the bill in the Senate right now!! Apparently increased funding for transit and roads has been amended back into the so-called "lights-on" bill! http://www.theuptake.org/mn-senate-channel/

EDIT: Franzen amendment passes. Gas tax increase is back in (5c maybe). I have no idea where the transit tax increase stands. It definitely isn't a .5% increase, maybe down to .25% at this time. Follow @EthanFawley or @RachelSB on Twitter, or just search #mnleg to follow along.

EDIT2: They're about to vote on the bill, as amended! Sen. Hortman (R-Chanhassen) threw a temper tantrum.

Regardless of anyone's feelings about more transit taxes, I don't understand how anyone can seriously oppose a 5-7cent gas tax increase. The current revenue stream does not cover present and future obligations. Transportation spending should not come out of the general fund, period. Being opposed to slightly increased gas taxes and thinking gas prices are already too high is just plain selfish and shortsighted.

EDIT3: Sen. Osmek (R-Mound) is somehow saying that giving more money to transportation takes it away from keeping guns out of criminals' hands. So yeah...he made a connection between transportation funding and gun control. Somebody shoot me ;)

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby Mdcastle » May 10th, 2013, 5:33 pm

My own idea would be to eliminate all sales taxes and user fees, and that includes tolls, fares, state park admissions, gasoline taxes, and the like and just fund what we need to with income taxes.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby MNdible » May 10th, 2013, 7:31 pm

The gas tax increase seems reasonable, but I don't understand why no transportation funding should come out of the general fund. It is a public good, right? The idea that everything has to be funded by user fees seems strange to me.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby gahwi003 » May 10th, 2013, 8:42 pm

Mdcastle wrote:My own idea would be to eliminate all sales taxes and user fees, and that includes tolls, fares, state park admissions, gasoline taxes, and the like and just fund what we need to with income taxes.
If you are interested in developing connected, and livable communities through the use of mass transit, you should not be advocating the removal of road tolls/fares. This would give individuals an incentive to use their gas guzzling machines.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 10th, 2013, 9:48 pm

MNdible wrote:The gas tax increase seems reasonable, but I don't understand why no transportation funding should come out of the general fund. It is a public good, right? The idea that everything has to be funded by user fees seems strange to me.
David Levinson would say it's a club good. Using the definition that riding it is rivalrous (you standing on a bus means someone else can't, at least if congested), and excludable (we currently pay a fare to ride it).

Under these definitions, one could make the case that many goods typically described as public are not truly public but club goods. Me playing basketball on a public court means someone else can't, but we all pay taxes that support the maintenance of the park. We all pay for roads/streets (some pay more if they buy gas) but if the street is clogged with cars I can't get out on it.

You can make the case that we should stop any subsidy for both roads (freeways, highways) and transit (while leaving local streets as public goods that are not excludable or rivalrous 99.8% of the time). Take it to the limit by making people pay the true cost of driving - tolls on freeways and highways, carbon taxes that reflect the future cost of environmental damages, etc. Heck, one could even be clever and find out how much of our national defense is spent on protecting oil reserves and transport and build that in to gasoline and nat'l gas prices (but good luck on that one). Carbon taxes also apply to transit but would have less of an effect, most likely making it a more economical choice with the drawbacks being freedom of time and destination options.

You could then make transit a pseudo-public good by subsidizing demand for those that cannot afford it to meet their daily needs. But I don't think any of the things i just talked about would happen in our lifetimes, so if we're going to subsidize a form of transportation, it should be the one that is more equitable and has lower direct and secondary (poor land-use) environmental harm.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby MNdible » May 10th, 2013, 10:37 pm

Even if I never drive a car, I benefit from the existence of a well maintained transportation system. Just like even if I never call the police, I benefit from the existence of the police department. If I never collect welfare, I still benefit from the presence of a societal safety net. Etc.

Public goods, all.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby alleycat » May 11th, 2013, 12:15 am

Looks like .25 cent raise now and another .25 next biennium. Same goes for gas tax.
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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby talindsay » May 11th, 2013, 8:20 am

MNdible wrote:Even if I never drive a car, I benefit from the existence of a well maintained transportation system. Just like even if I never call the police, I benefit from the existence of the police department. If I never collect welfare, I still benefit from the presence of a societal safety net. Etc.

Public goods, all.
Hear hear! We choose the society we live in, and it's not all about our immediate, direct needs. Helping others most certainly *does* help us, if even from the cynical view that it gets them out of our way.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 11th, 2013, 8:45 am

MNdible wrote:Even if I never drive a car, I benefit from the existence of a well maintained transportation system. Just like even if I never call the police, I benefit from the existence of the police department. If I never collect welfare, I still benefit from the presence of a societal safety net. Etc.

Public goods, all.
I agree with you. But if you never drive a car you don't benefit from everyone else having unlimited access to an ever growing network of road infrastructure. I'm not saying I agree with the toll 100% method. The problem is everyone (businesses and people alike) assuming they have a right to direct physical access to certain types of transportation systems. It's one thing to compare public goods like welfare, police, fire fighters, national defense - things that are a basic social safety net (and I completely agree with you, and I add healthcare in that mix too). It's another to assume it's everyone's job to make sure everyone's choice of lifestyle is supported with good infrastructure no matter where they live. Similarly, we all pay the postal service to mail a letter, and have to pay more if it's a package, etc

David Levinson has a point in this regard, that the rivalrous nature of a freeway or bus blurs the line - if I use the police system that doesn't prevent someone else from enjoying it. I think this is where the ST message comes in to play - we need high capacity, high speed roadways (HSR, interstates, highways, etc) that allow people to travel from one area to another without congestion. Once you get there, we need a well-maintained infrastructure to get you around the area you're in (streets, sidewalks, bus, LRT, subway). We've mucked things up with a design of infrastructure where anyone who wants access to certain roadways gets it, and the congestion that results is attempted to be fixed by just creating more lanes. Without really charging people for the use of roadways (gas taxes are very indirect) we create a tragedy of the commons problem because one car can physically exclude another from entering the system.

My take is that capital costs of infrastructure should come out of the public fund. If you apply the ST principle, gas taxes/fares/etc should cover operating expenses and more, and the amount left over can be funded to build new infrastructure when it is financially productive to do so. Tolling, be it zone tolls, true congestion pricing, VMT, etc ensures that we have an array of options for people to use said infrastructure without delay. And again, I think if this results in a missing link of affordability, subsidize demand for that group of people.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby scttdvd » May 11th, 2013, 12:56 pm

MNdible wrote:Even if I never drive a car, I benefit from the existence of a well maintained transportation system. Just like even if I never call the police, I benefit from the existence of the police department. If I never collect welfare, I still benefit from the presence of a societal safety net. Etc.

Public goods, all.
A public good is not simply a thing with positive externalities, it is a thing whose benefit to consumers is disconnected from the price the consumers are willing to pay because the good is non-rival and non-excludable. It's something everyone wants, but no one has a reason to pay for. You tax people to avoid the free-rider problem. Everyone benefits from clean air and water, but no single person has an incentive to pay for an agency to inspect factories and study the environment.

I live in an apartment building, and I benefit from living near large, beautiful homes. They make for good Instagramming. But large, beautiful homes are not a public good, and it would be foolish and regressive to subsidize them.

Scott

[5/13 edit: Changed "non-exclusive" to "non-excludable."]
Last edited by scttdvd on May 13th, 2013, 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby mplsjaromir » May 11th, 2013, 7:58 pm

scttdvd wrote:
MNdible wrote:Even if I never drive a car, I benefit from the existence of a well maintained transportation system. Just like even if I never call the police, I benefit from the existence of the police department. If I never collect welfare, I still benefit from the presence of a societal safety net. Etc.

Public goods, all.
A public good is not simply a thing with positive externalities, it is a thing whose benefit to consumers is disconnected from the price the consumers are willing to pay because the good is non-rival and non-exclusive. It's something everyone wants, but no one has a reason to pay for. You tax people to avoid the free-rider problem. Everyone benefits from clean air and water, but no single person has an incentive to pay for an agency to inspect factories and study the environment.

I live in an apartment building, and I benefit from living near large, beautiful homes. They make for good Instagramming. But large, beautiful homes are not a public good, and it would be foolish and regressive to subsidize them.

Scott
Best 1st post ever.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 12th, 2013, 1:37 am

mplsjaromir wrote:Best 1st post ever.
-1. He said it better than I did.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby gpete » May 17th, 2013, 1:44 pm

Slightly related, the MN House just rejected a bonding bill for this year. Never say never, but it looks highly unlikely that there will be a bonding bill (then again, it would have been unusual to have a bonding bill in an odd-numbered year; presumably there will be a bonding bill next year).

Of relevance to this discussion, the bonding bill that they voted on included $50 million for the Met Council:
This appropriation may be used by the Metropolitan Council or for grants to metropolitan area political subdivisions for preliminary engineering, engineering, environmental assessment, environmental work, design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction for the Lake Street and I-35W transit station in Minneapolis, and in the following transit way corridors: Bottineau Boulevard, East 37th Street in St. Paul, I-94 Gateway, Nicollet Avenue, Red Rock, Riverview, Robert Street, Rush Line, Snelling Avenue, and Southwest.

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Re: Southwest Corridor (Green Line Extension)

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2013, 3:00 pm

min-chi-cbus wrote:I totally agree, don't eff with the sales tax or it'll have ripple effects well beyond the income it will bring. Besides, it taxes the very wrong people -- the people who need that subsidy the most are the poorest people.
You're taking too narrow a view. Regressivity analysis should consider the use as well as the source. Dedicating a sales tax to service that benefits and is essential to low-include people is the very definition of progressive, as far as I'm concerned.

Any other funding source is not politically realistic. There's a reason practically every other region in the U.S. funds transit via sales taxes.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby David Greene » May 17th, 2013, 9:26 pm

Well, looks like transit funding is dead this year, leaving an $18 million hole for Metro Transit and jeopardizing lots of projects.

Here's who you can blame for fighting against transit funding:

- Paul Thissen
- Diane Loeffler
- Joe Mullery
- Mark Dayton

Yep. All urban Dems, all Minneapolis legislators.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby mullen » May 19th, 2013, 12:01 am

transit funding isn't dead because the final trans bill was still being negotiated in conference committee.

it takes more than legislators from the urban core to pass a bill. there are many factors that go into how these bills are shaped. one of those is what has a realistic chance at passage by the full body. there is a lot of tax being raised this session. a lot of legislators are hesitant at more.

the final bill to be voted on both floors has nearly 40 million for southwest lrt and 18 million for metro transit, filling that hole in their budget. unfortunately though there is no provision for a dedicated sales tax for transit. hopefully something will happen during next year's session.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby David Greene » May 19th, 2013, 2:58 pm

mullen wrote:transit funding isn't dead because the final trans bill was still being negotiated in conference committee.

it takes more than legislators from the urban core to pass a bill. there are many factors that go into how these bills are shaped. one of those is what has a realistic chance at passage by the full body. there is a lot of tax being raised this session. a lot of legislators are hesitant at more.

the final bill to be voted on both floors has nearly 40 million for southwest lrt and 18 million for metro transit, filling that hole in their budget. unfortunately though there is no provision for a dedicated sales tax for transit. hopefully something will happen during next year's session.
Believing anything will happen next year is next to fantasy. It's an election year. If they couldn't raise taxes for bread-and-butter infrastructure all over the state this year, they sure as heck won't do it next year.

Many legislators were ready to raise the gas and sales tax. Dayton refused to allow a gas tax increase. Greater MN legislators aren't going to vote for a transportation bill that gives them nothing. Thissen refused to challenge Dayton.

We had a Senator from EDINA resurrect the sales and gas tax. Hats off to Melisa Franzen! Minneapolis legislators should feel absolutely ashamed and embarrassed about that.

I've been involved in this campaign all year. Believe me, stiff opposition from Minneapolis legislators was a BIG reason this failed.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby mullen » May 20th, 2013, 6:13 am

uhuh...you've been involved eh. why you don't you run for office. go tell rep Horstein and senator Dibble, both representing minneapolis that were was stiff oppostition from mpls for dedicated transit funding. you're full of crap.

do you know how a bill gets passed? do you really think a gas tax increase, with prices currently up to 4.50 a gallon and up was going to pass the full legisltaure? keep pissing on the city. that seems to be your agenda.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby MNdible » May 20th, 2013, 8:09 am

Well that got personal in a hurry.

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Re: State transportation financing and tax reform

Postby mplsjaromir » May 20th, 2013, 8:38 am

MNdible wrote:Well that got personal in a hurry.
You mean when David Greene said he was personally advocating for transit at the capital? He stated he was involved all year and asked forum readers to believe him. That has to be what you meant.


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