Coleman, Rybak join with mayors for transit

Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak joined with mayors and commissioners from across the metro today in support of Governor Mark Dayton’s initiatives to increase and improve transit across the region. In his budget proposal in January, Governor Dayton included a plan that would increase bus service region-wide, support Southwest Light Rail, and provide for new bus rapid transit or streetcar lines over the next 20 years. Funding for the transit strategy would come through a regional ¼-cent sales tax, and at its completion, the expanded transit would provide 500,000 more employees with access to their jobs.

“Governor Dayton has proposed a forward-looking plan that invests in the middle class and, most importantly, is necessary for a competitive 21st century workforce in Minnesota,” Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said. “Using this sales tax for transit means growing our economy by several billion dollars over the next 20 years.”

“Here’s the bad news: the Minneapolis–Saint Paul region has fallen behind. Competitor cities like Denver, St. Louis and Cleveland long ago chose to devote far more resources than we have to building and operating transit systems that attract jobs, grow businesses and raise property values, so we lag significantly behind. And this growing gap affects every Minnesotan: because the metro region is the economic engine of our state, every Minnesotan is hurt,” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said. “Now here’s the good news: Governor Dayton’s transit proposal will move Minnesota significantly forward in building the 21st-century transit system that we need to be economically competitive not only nationally, but globally. I urge the Legislature to support, because every Minnesota community depends on it.”

“The Governor’s transit tax proposal is fundamentally about people,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh. “About where they live, work, go to school, shop and recreate. The point of transit expansion isn’t about lines on a map, but rather improving connections between people and places, driving business and job growth, securing economic prosperity and ultimately creating thriving communities for this and future generations. The governor is offering the ticket to a 21st century transit system, and we need for all of us to get on board.”

“As local units of government, and as a region, we need bold action on transit,” said Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke. “The transit sales tax proposal is that bold step and reflects a commitment to long term investment in a connected, integrated and prosperous region.”

“An effective transit system is in everyone’s best interest,” said West Saint Paul Mayor John Zanmiller. “An administrative assistant in West Saint Paul earning minimum wage needs to work 15 hours per month just to afford a parking space near his or her place of business if there is not an effective transit system. The expansion of the transit sales tax helps make our communities affordable for middle class families.”