Vehicle tax question to stay on Minnesota ballot

| 10/30/2006

Despite arguments that its wording is confusing, a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution will remain on the Nov. 7 ballot. If approved, the change would dedicate tax dollars to transportation projects around the state.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Oct. 26 - without additional comment - that item would remain on the ballot.

The ballot question asks voters if they want to dedicate all motor vehicle sales taxes solely to roads, bridges and transit. Currently, about half of MVST revenue - 46 percent - is rerouted to the state's general fund, the Elk River Star News reported.

As written, the proposed amendment would require that at least 40 percent of the taxes would be used for mass transit and up to 60 percent would go for roads and bridges. The wording leaves open the possibility that rail and bus projects could get most or all of the revenue.

After a five-year phase-in period, the change is projected to generate about $300 million annually. It would offer the state's first dedicated source of funding for transit.

Opponents, led by rural mayors and legislators who brought the challenge, say the amendment is poorly worded because it doesn't guarantee how money will be distributed between roads and transit. That is of particular concern for rural communities that typically don't need money for transit.

Others say dedicating all motor vehicle sales taxes for transportation will hurt schools and colleges, which rely heavily on general funds.

Supporters acknowledge the amendment isn't perfect but say it is a step in the right direction, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Minnesotans will cast ballots on the transportation initiative Tuesday, Nov. 7. Anyone not registered to vote in the state can do so up to and including Election Day. Residents who wait until Election Day to register are required to have a photo ID with their address on it in order to vote.