Counterpoint: Dayton Chooses Light Rail over Some Pretty Good Legislation

The following Counterpoint by By Greg Davids and Paul Torkelson was published on the editorial pages in the August 26, 2016 edition of the Star Tribune.  Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, is chair of the House Taxes Committee. Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, is chair of the House Capital Investment Committee.

Counterpoint: Dayton Chooses Light Rail over Some Pretty Good Legislation

Good leaders would direct their attention to where they can help, not to where they’ll meet head-on with unaddressed costs and litigation. 
Much has been said in the Star Tribune’s opinion pages the last few days about Southwest light rail and its role in sinking a special session for middle-class tax relief and a transportation-heavy bonding bill. On Thursday, it was appalling to watch Gov. Mark Dayton hastily convene a meeting to attempt to advance the controversial train anyway, without regard for Minnesotans waiting on the tax relief and road and bridge repairs he buried just days earlier.

The decision by Dayton and the Democrats to walk away from tax relief and transportation funding over a controversial metro-area train has left Minnesotans scratching their heads. As chairs of the House tax and bonding committees, we’re equally frustrated.

Democrats claim that it’s just the metro area that would pay for the Southwest line, and that’s simply not true. Minnesotans across the state would be forced to pay for the tens of millions in ongoing operating losses. At no time did Democrats propose a plan to fund construction and operating costs solely with local dollars. They say we need the line to ease congestion. However, the environmental-impact statement shows that this $2 billion train will have very little impact on travel times for commuters. In fact, the average weekly total transit times from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie are identical whether or not Southwest light rail is built.

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