Minnesota House OKs transportation bill

| 5/29/2003

The Minnesota House approved a plan May 27 to borrow money for state transportation projects.

The $3.8 billion funding package includes money to run the state transportation and public safety departments, the Star Tribune reported. It is modeled after a plan proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Under the House plan, the state would also borrow $400 million and seek federal money ahead of schedule to pay up to $900 million on road, bridge and transit projects over the next four years.

The $400 million in bonds are to be repaid through cost cutting at MnDOT, which will see a 1 percent reduction to its operating budget.

The proposal includes tolling solo drivers a still-unspecified fee to drive in lanes now reserved for high-occupancy vehicles. The fees would go toward road projects.

In addition, the bill includes money for 50 new state troopers.

According to the newspaper, the money would come from an annual fee on bars that choose to stay open until 2 a.m. instead of the current 1 a.m. close.

The bill awaits Senate action.