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Session 2003

Session 2003: Transportation

This was one of the most contentious issues of the special session, but the two sides finally agreed on a borrow-now, pay-later transportation funding plan. The $3.8 billion bill includes money to run the state transportation and public safety departments. But road projects are the centerpiece of the plan. The state would borrow $400 million and seek $300 million to $500 million in federal funds ahead of schedule to pay for up to $900 million in construction work over the next four years.

Nearly everyone agrees that traffic congestion in the Twin Cities is getting worse. Projections show the population is going to keep growing, and policy makers haven't been able to agree on a long-term transportation funding plan. Cars, buses, roads, LRT, commuter rail; Can we solve this problem, or is Minnesota facing gridlock? ( 06/05/2003)
Legislative negotiators are putting the finishing touches on a $7.4 billion dollar health and human services bill. They've hit a couple of snags as they wrap up the nearly 800-page bill. The bill could be the last piece of legislation passed in special session. (05/28/2003)
One week into the special session, the Minnesota House has passed a transportation bill that could put as much as $900 million into road projects over the next four years. The bill would borrow for projects and use an advance of federal money, an approach criticized by Democrats as short-sighted. Senate DFL leaders say they won't take up the transportation bill until the House also passes a capital investment bill. (05/28/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders have made a major breakthrough in budget negotations. Negotiators met late Sunday night and into Monday morning to craft agreements on transportation funding, aid payments to local governments, and state borrowing. Lawmakers are expected to tackle the final piece of the puzzle: the health and human services budget. (05/26/2003)
Legislative leaders negotiated into the night Saturday, but didn't reach agreement on the three outstanding budget bills or on a bonding bill. The rest of the Legislature has gone home after sending a nuclear waste storage bill to the governor. (05/25/2003)
The latest Minnesota Public Radio-St. Paul Pioneer Press Poll shows a slight majority would oppose an increase to the gas tax or their license tab fees to pay for transportation projects. Respondents were split over the condition of the state's roads. Both the House and Senate have passed different transportation funding projects. Gov. Pawlenty and House Republicans say the poll reinforces their decision not to raise taxes to pay for transportation projects. Senate DFLers say the polls show more people support an increase than in previous years. (05/07/2003)
The Minnesota House has given its approval to Governor Tim Pawlenty's transportation package. The proposal would borrow $500 million for new road projects. It also requests that an addition $500 million in future federal payments be used now. DFLers -- and some Republicans -- unsuccessfully attempted to broaden the bill by raising the gas tax and license tab fees. Minority Leader Matt Entenza of St. Paul says the Republican plan is actually a step backward. ( 04/30/2003)
The Minnesota House has approved a transportation funding bill that injects more than $1 billion in new money for road projects over the next five years. The plan closely mirrors the proposal favored by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But critics say it offers too little new cash. The body also approved spending reductions in the courts and criminal justice system. The two budget bills are the first to pass the House this year. (04/29/2003)
The Minnesota Legislature is talking about picking up the pace on state highways. Rural lawmakers are pushing a bill that would increase the daytime speed limit to 65 mph on many two-lane highways. (04/29/2003)
In the next couple of years, Minnesotans could be paying tolls to use certain metropolitan highway lanes. State and federal lawmakers are considering plans to charge lane fees to relieve congestion and fund new road projects. The proposal is part of a mix of highway development and financing plans announced by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration and legislators from both parties. (04/24/2003)
When Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau took on the job of leading the transportation department, she set out to reshape the department and the way it does business. Find out what's in store for roads and mass transit. ( 04/23/2003)
Senate DFLers today are proposing increasing the state gas tax and license tab fees to funnel additional money into road projects and mass transit. The plan amounts to roughly twice the transportation funding favored by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and House Republicans. It also runs afoul of Pawlenty's pledge not to raise state taxes during his time in office. But supporters say the state's transportation needs demand new revenue, and they say they're hopeful the governor and his GOP allies can be persuaded. (04/22/2003)
Vehicle registration fees, which were cut three years ago, would climb under an ambitious road-building plan backed by big-name Democrats and Republicans. The chairmen of House and Senate transportation committees are co-sponsors of the proposal that would pump $2.5 billion into road and transit projects over the next seven years. (04/01/2003)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has released a five-year transportation package that he says will jumpstart road and bridge projects across the state. The plan relies on borrowing $550 million for highway construction and seeks an equal amount in advance funds from the federal government. Critics say the plan is shortsighted and makes almost no allowances for public transit. (03/14/2003)
There's another spat brewing over Minnesota's first light rail line. Supporters of the 11.5-mile transit service from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington had been counting on state funds to operate it. However, in his budget proposal, Gov. Pawlenty proposes the state pay less than half of the operating cost. (02/20/2003)