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A priority problem, not a funding problem

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To the editor:

A recent column in the Echo Press reported comments from Commissioner of Transportation on funding Minnesota’s transportation needs. Part of that article reported that Zelle said “over the next 20 years, there’s a need for $30 billion in funding. Funding from existing sources is about $18 billion for that 20-year span.” A little deceptive, to say the least, if I do say so.

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According to the non-partisan House Research brief - Highway Finance Overview, $1.46 billion goes into the Trunk Highway Fund each year. Over 20 years, that would equate to $29.2 billion. There is another $711 million or $14 billion in other county, city, and bridge accounts over that time; http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/ss/sshwyfund.pdf.

The spending worksheet on transportation from the last session is located here: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/fiscal/files/transpo13.pdf. This shows that the budget for road construction for 2014-15 is $1,705,000,000 (line 102) out of $3,023,885,000 (line 131) from all funds. A billion of that (line 45) directly is paying for light and commuter rail with only 56 percent going for roads?

And you wonder why we have a road funding problem in Minnesota? It is not because the money is not there, that you don’t pay enough in taxes, or that funding has simply dried up. It is because more and more funding is being redirected away from roads. That’s not a funding problem; that is a priority problem!

David Anderson Lonsdale, MN

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