Today, Governor Mark Dayton directed Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel to establish the Commissioner's Transportation Finance Advisory Group. Noting that Minnesota's highways, roads, bridges and public transit systems have suffered decline, Governor Dayton seeks to reverse this trend, starting by gathering recommendations from this Advisory Group.
The ability of Minnesota's transportation systems to meet the needs of a growing population is one of the key measures of the state's business climate. Investments in transportation infrastructure will support an environment in which Minnesota businesses can continue to grow, and will ensure that Minnesota continues to be an attractive location for companies looking to expand.
The Advisory Group will identify investment opportunities to support a thriving economy and a high quality of life for Minnesotans over the next twenty years, identify and analyze the potential of various revenue sources and non-traditional approaches to transportation financing, as well as opportunities for public-private partnerships to invest in transportation improvements, and help develop a strategic marketing plan to obtain public support for the investment plan and any additional steps needed to obtain the funding. The Advisory Group will prepare a written report of its recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature by December 1, 2012.
About the Advisory Group, Governor Dayton said, "After traveling the state and meeting with business owners across Minnesota over the past several months, I have been reminded of how essential transportation infrastructure is to business success in Minnesota. Workers need to be able to get to and from work, and businesses need to be able to get goods to and from their markets. We must either improve our transportation systems or else suffer the consequences of their decline. I have asked Commissioner Sorel to gather the best and the brightest minds together to help us find new, innovative ways to finance improving our transportation systems."
Governor Dayton was joined by Department of Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel and Chair of the Metropolitan Council Sue Haigh at today's press conference announcing the Advisory Group.
"Good transportation systems are essential to Minnesota's economic competitiveness and quality of life," said Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel. "In creating this Transportation Finance Advisory Group, we will draw on a variety of experiences and ideas that will help us develop options for funding that will sustain our transportation systems for years to come."
Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh said, "The Twin Cities region and our state are in economic competition with other regions and other states. We need, and we are building, a 21st century transit system in our region to sharpen our economic edge--to create jobs and spur economic development. We must address the ad hoc financing system that currently leaves our major transitway projects with stops and starts that cost us time and money. A sustainable funding source for transit investments and transit operations is absolutely crucial.
In the memo, the Governor recommends to Commissioner Sorel that the Transportation Finance Advisory Group include DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips, Met Council Chair Sue Haigh, members of the public to represent businesses in the seven-county metropolitan area and Greater Minnesota, a representative of the investment community, a representative of unions, a representative of county government, and an economist. In addition, the Governor will ask both the Senate and the House of Representatives to select two members from their respective bodies, one of the majority, and one of the minority.