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Transit tax bill gets hearing Wednesday in St. Paul

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: March 20, 2013 - 1:51 PM

 

 

 

A bill that calls for increased funding for transit in the metro area and other area of the state gets a hearing at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday at the State Capitol, and one organization is urging supports to turn out en masse.

Transit for Livable Communities is hoping to get more than 100 people to the hearing of the Transportation Finance Committee at the State Office Building Room 10, 100 Rev. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Bills HF1044 and SF 927 drafted by Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) calls for an additional $300 million a year for projects in the metro area and $32 million a year in areas outside the metro. The extra money is needed to meet a demand for transit and for safe, accessible connections for pedestrians, bicyclists and those using wheelchairs to get around.

"We need a transit stystem that allows all our region's residents to thrive," said Sen. Champion. "This bill would dramatically increase access to jobs for low income people and make it more affordable to get to work."

The push for more money for transit comes following a poll that showed a majority of Minnesotans said they would pay more taxes to expand and improve public transportation. The poll, conducted in January by Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates in conjunction with Public Opinion Strategies showed 90 percent of respondents agreed that public transportation is a good investment.

Results also showed that 7 in 10 Minnesotans wanted funding to include projects for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The survey also found respondents listed reducing congestion, creating jobs and making sure transit systems were available to all as top resons for supporting increased tax.

The amount could be a quarter to a half-cent.

The bill also is supported by Transit for Livable Communities, a coalition of more than 40 organizations from across the state. The coalition envisions expanding transit, including bus and rail lines, funding bicycle and pedestrian projects, and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"This coalition recognizes the great need to provide safe, accessible connections to transit," said Rachel Callanan of the American Heart Association. "Transit, bicycling and walking add much-needed activity to the daily commute, making our communities healthier."

Said Colleen Carey of the Cornerstong Group, "we can't afford not to invest in transit. Transit is a win win for all of us. It is good for the environment, good for our health, creates new jobs and improves the long-term economic competitiveness of our region."

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