Thursday, January 29, 2015

Minnesota Sales Tax and Gas Tax Increases

The Met Council Problem - Reform Needed! - June 2016
  • un-elected people (least accountable regional authority in the US) 
  • has a billion dollar budget (largest in the US)
  • can levy and increase taxes without voter approval
  • uses plans hostile to roads and cars
  • has the broadest authority (of any regional authority in the US)
  • only regional authority to own public housing and direct housing policies
Yet Minneapolis - St. Paul
  • lags behind in population growth
  • lags behind in job growth
  • lags behind in transit ridership
  • has concentrated centers of poverty
(Met Council: A Comparative Assessment - PDF - Met Council Needs Reforming Now)

Small Businesses Oppose Southwest Light Rail - May 17, 2016
Southwest light rail “is a wasteful, problem-ridden project that would fail any cost benefit analysis,”
said the local office of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the largest small business association. NFIB metro members oppose the light rail plan, its sales tax increase, and its ongoing subsidy of $30 million per year. (Star Tribune)
Southwest Light Rail Noise Problem - May 17, 2016
A lawsuit against Metropolitan Council was filed today by the owners of 500 apartment and townhouses in three complexes within feet of the proposed Southwest light rail tracks. The owners found the recently-released environmental impact statement did not adequately address the noise problem of the light rail trains. (Star Tribune)
Gov. Mark Dayton's Transit & Transportation Plan for 2016

• Propose $11 billion for light rail, bridges, & bike paths
• Raise gas tax 16 cents, and more when gas prices rise
• Increase registration & license tab prices
   ($10 + 1.25% vehicle value)
• Increase metro sales tax for riderless transit projects & studies
  (currently .25%, increased .5% to an additional .75% for transit)
• Penalize the Minneapolis Park Board over SW light rail
   ($1.6 billion cut in 2016 and in 2017)
• Hire Adam Duininck to head Metro Council & give job 236% raise
   (Susan Haigh received $61,414. Duininck will make $145,000.)

Light Rail Tax burden

Problems with Dayton's Plan

• Existing money is wasted on: Los Angeles vacations, free rides, the Met Council raise, and streetcar studies.
• Scare tactic of failing bridges.
• Bullying the Park Board by threatening to cut funding.
• Gas taxes and sales taxes (regressive taxes) hurt the poor far more than the wealthy.
•  Raises taxes when Minnesota has a tax surplus.

Gateway Corridor vacation
Money Wasted
There isn't enough money for transportation in the $71 billion budget, they say, but the Gateway Corridor committee had enough money to fly 30 to Los Angeles in June 2014 on a vacation tour. They are looking for more money this year. They want $3 million more to cover their next vacations.

Transit fares don't cover transit costs, but Metro Transit fares are often free.
  Free rides at the airport.
  Free rides on Nicollet Mall. 
  Free rides for Wild games.
  Free rides for Gopher football. 
  Free rides for Minnesota Lynx.
  Free rides for Minnesota Swarm. 
  Free rides for voting. 
  Free rides for the art fairs.
  Free rides for the winter carnival.
  Free rides for the Aquatennial. 
  Free rides to the children's museum.
  Free rides to the Holidazzle village.
  Free rides for the green line opening. 
  Free rides for the Surly beer hall opening.
  Free rides for disabled veterans. 
  Free rides for St. Patrick's Day, New Years Day...

If fares weren't always free, more fares would be collected. When it's not free, the standard rush hour fare is $2.25 and non-rush hour is $1.75. In 2013, Metro Transit collected $91.59 million from 81.4 million riders or an average of $1.13 per rider. Money is there for the taking.

Husband of Dayton's chief of staff, Adam Duininck will head Metro Council. Because Duininck is male works full time, he will get a 236% raise.  (Susan Haigh received $61,414. Duininck will make $145,000.)

And St. Paul's city council wants a streetcar for tourists.  Other cities are tearing out their streetcars or spending $400,000 annually on streetcar insurance like Tampa, but St. Paul's council wants a streetcar to be “competitive.”

The scare tactic of failing bridges is the local version of 9-11 reminders.

In 2007, the 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed, killing 13 people. In the years since, all Minnesota bridges have been inspected. The Lafayette Bridge (US52) over the Mississippi River is being replaced due to a similar design flaw and lack of redundancies.

The transportation bill press conference specifically mentioned the Kellogg-3rd Street bridge. It could be either repaired for less than $8 million or replaced for $40 million with transit upgrades added for streetcars, Gateway Corridor bus rapid transit, Rush line connection, bike paths, and a Saints ballpark scenic overlook.

The Kellogg-3rd Street bridge has 9,900 daily drivers on 4 lanes. It was over-built in 1982. The 2 lane Smith Avenue (High) bridge has 13,900 daily drivers. The Kellogg-3rd bridge needs repairs to be up to federal code (under $8 million), but Gateway Corridor bus transit wants it torn down and replaced for $40 million. Either the company working on the nearby Lafayette Bridge (Lunda Construction) or the company building the nearby Saints Ballpark (Ryan Companies) is probably in line to do the job.

Dayton Bullies Park Board

The Governor also wants to cut funding to the Minneapolis Park Board by $3.7 million (2016-17) in retaliation for slowing progress on the Southwest light rail project. Park Board president Liz Wielinski said the Board is obligated to protect park land and has raised its concerns about SW light rail for three years.

The FTA has listened to the park board and ordered a more extensive review of the environmental impact of the Southwest light rail project.

Update: Governor Dayton is “Shocked and Appalled” by $ 2 Billion Southwest light rail price tag.

Gas and sales taxes are regressive taxes that impact the poor more than the wealthy. All of these taxes and added fees are hidden tax increases that don't show up on tax forms but add up. The Governor's staff estimates the average cost would be $294 annually per driver. More bullying by the Governor.

Minnesota charges a 28.5 cents a gallon gas tax, in addition to the federal 18.4 cents a gallon tax. The plan is to make to the state rate 6.5% with a base amount of 16 cents a gallon on the wholesale price of gas.
Minnesota Light Rail Train Tax on licenses and tabs
The additional transit sales tax currently at .25%, would be increased .5% to an additional .75% sales tax. Plus Carver and Scott counties would have to pay the metro transit sales tax rate.

Governor Dayton's regressive taxes - gas, sales, licenses

Minnesota has a $1.3 billion surplus on a budget of $71 billion (2014-2015) but Gov. Dayton wants to raise taxes.

Other Views

Duluth News Tribune

Minnesota Public Radio - toll bridge for the St. Croix River bridge at Bayport

Star Tribune 

Pioneer Press

Light rail funding from car tabs, licenses, sales taxes

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