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Thursday, January 24, 2013    

Minnesota Gov. Dayton proposes dedicated sales tax for transit funding


Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a quarter-cent, transit-dedicated metro sales tax to help speed up construction of the transit system serving the Twin Cities area.

Included in Dayton's budget plan, the proposal would accelerate the build-out of transitways in the region, create jobs and ensure the area's economic competitiveness, said Metropolitan Council Chairwoman Susan Haigh in a prepared statement.

The transit network that would be funded under the proposal includes additional light rail. His proposal also would expand the sales tax to include more goods and services, which would result in an increase in revenue for the Counties Transit Improvement Board.

"Sustained economic development and job growth must be supported by sustainable and reliable transit financing strategy," Haigh said, adding that Dayton's sales-tax proposal represents "a significant investment in this region as a world-class economic competitor."

The regional sales tax increase would cover capital and operating expenses for the growing transit system, and eliminate the current use of state bonding and state general fund expenditures for metro area transit services.

A recent study by the Itasca Project, a coalition of Minnesota business leaders, concluded that the return on transit investments in the metro region would be $6 billion to $10 billion if the area accelerates transit system improvements, Metropolitan Council officials said.

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