In Dayton road plan: $10 billion over 10 years, Minnesota Public Radio's Tom Scheck reports:
Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle said he based the $6 billion in spending on roads and bridges on a 2012 report by the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee, which is composed of elected officials, business and labor leaders.
“After careful analysis, 100 percent were in agreement that if we ignore this problem, we’ll leave a legacy of poor and crumbling transportation for future generations,” Zelle said.
Former Republican legislators who came to that agreement tell Scheck that they didn't really mean it. Mike Beard, who represented Shakopee in the House, for instance, said “Need is a political term[.]” Having listened to Republicans for years drone on about the difference between "wants" and "needs," Bluestem knows exactly want Beard means.
Rep. Tim Kelly says GOP has no rush on long-term transportation bill. "I look forward to a long-term solution over the next two years."— David Montgomery (@dhmontgomery) January 26, 2015
Tim Kelly's steep learning curve
But there's also this in Scheck's report:
For his part, House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, said he has many questions about Dayton’s tax plan, particularly how much more people would pay and who it would affect most.
He said the Legislature needs more time to figure out exactly how much money the state really needs for its roads, bridges and transit.
“The sooner we can all get on the same page and reach agreement of what the number is, we can get to solving the problem,” Kelly said.
As Bluestem pointed out in our November 30, 2014 post, Trains, planes & automobiles go through his district: Kelly lays out transportation chair cred:
Bluestem wasn't the only one wondering why Representative Tim Kelly was selected to chair the powerful House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee.
While some have spectulated that his reputation for being a moderate (established by voting against putting the marriage amendment on the 2012 ballot and floating a bill for civil unions as an alternative to legalizing same sex marriage in 2013) might help him broker a deal, Kelly himself told the Rochester Post Bulletin a different reason last Monday.
We're not sure how we missed this one. (Thank heavens for Al Juhnke's weekly aggregation of Outstate News).
PB political reporter Heather Carlson writes in Political Notebook: Kelly prepares to lead on transportation:
. . .Kelly, who recently won election to a fourth term, is somewhat of a surprise pick for the post because he had not been serving on the transportation committee. But Kelly said in a lot of ways his selection makes sense.
"Where I sit, just from a district perspective, we've got rail lines, we've got freight, we've got major highways, we've got an airport, we've got a river. When you think about it, it's smack dab in the middle of every form of transportation we utilize," the Red Wing Republican said.
In addition, he said he lives close enough to the metro area to understand some of the issues there. That's important, Kelly said, because rural and urban lawmakers are going to have to be willing to work together to get a comprehensive transportation funding package passed.
"We still have to work together as a state, as opposed to outstate versus metro," he said.
So trains, planes and automobilies--and barges--travel through his district and he drives to the Cities sometimes.
That certainly gives the man more cred than a guy with more seniority who served on the committee last session (and who would have more time served than any other Republican on the committee following several retirements) and who took risks to bring home the transportation bacon for his own district.
There's not much barge traffic in Southwestern Minnesota, so Rod Hamilton will have to be content shepherding the relatively tiny share of the state budget allocated to agriculture, and at least his recent experience in the human resources department of Christensen Farms is a bit more solid than just having transportation occur somewhere near Mountain Lake.
The selection of Kelly exposes a weakness in the public relations gambit of appointing committee chairs and members on the basis of geography over expertise. Kelly has to learn about our transportation needs, so another two years will be spent dithering over matters that have been studied to death.
And as we pointed out earlier, Western Minnesota loses out in state house transportation committee assignments under a nenver-ending campaign strategy that pits a generic "rural" v. "metro."
Bonus: Be on the lookout for Republican butthurt about how using the word "transportation" is a cover for funneling money away from roads and bridges to light rail. Bluestem is shocked there's no pitchforks and torches rally heading to Daudt's office to demand that he change the committee's name to Roads and Bridges. The last time that name was used was in the 1917-1918 session.
The Roads Committee was part of the Territorial Legislature's structure in the 1850s, while the Roads, Bridges and Navigable Streams committee met from 1859 through 1906.
The use of "transportation' to talk about, um, transportation is a long-standing term, as House Transportation committees go back as far as 1913-1914.
Photo: MN House Transportation Policy & Finance chair Tim Kelly needs to learn about transportation for the next two years.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.