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The absence of a guaranteed revenue stream could slow the development of future projects like the Bottineau light-rail between Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park and a network of bus rapid transit. Advocates are counting on the state to contribute another $81 million to Southwest.
Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, told fellow senators that passing the tax increases would “send a strong signal to the House and the governor that transportation is a priority.” But the House and the governor weren’t moved.
“The Legislature had a huge opportunity this session and let it slip away,” said Barb Thoman, executive director of Transit for Livable Communities.
Transit advocates in the Legislature often point to support from business groups, such as the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, which endorsed the transit sales tax increase.
However, the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, which includes communities that would be served by the Southwest LRT, supports the project but hasn’t endorsed the tax increase. That rankled Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan.
“You want us to finish some of these lines,” he told Judy Johnson, director of government affairs for TwinWest, at one hearing. “Then you don’t want to pay for it.”
Johnson said TwinWest was leery of raising the metro sales tax at a time when the governor and Legislature were considering other tax increases.
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