Thursday, May 24, 2007

GOP Transportation Bill spin

Transportation issues were at the forefront of the 2006 election cycle. Some estimates had Minnesota more than $30 billion behind in Transportation funding to build, maintain, and repair Minnesota's transportation infrastructure.

The transportation nightmare is evident everyday in the Metro area and growing in Greater Minnesota. Two days ago I was privileged enough to have a 90 minute trek from Maple Lake to St Michael and a three hour tour to St Paul.

While we all understand the importance of providing adequate funds for our states trunk highways, our county and municipal roadways are equally as important. These smaller roads are the ones that link us to our food, fiber, and fuel.

My State Rep, Dean Urdahl, has an explanation for his transportation flip flop in the Annandale Advocate.

Urdahl admits that Governor Pawlenty's proposal shortchanged Greater Minnesota's transportation needs. Therefore, in order to send a message to the Governor, Urdahl voted for the transportation bill.

Six days later, after meeting with the Governor, Urdahl flip flopped on the issue and as we all know, sided with House Republicans in sustaining Governor Pawlenty's veto.

Governor Pawlenty released his budget proposal on January 22nd, 2007. According to Rep Urdahl's letter, he met with the Governor with 6 days before the end of the session to discuss the transportation plight in Greater Minnesota.

Take are give a day, it took Rep Urdahl 115 days ($8,855 in per diem) to express his concern about the lack of funding for Greater Minnesota transportation issues?

Did he approach House Minority Leadership with his concerns in a timely manner?

In the end, the Omnibus Transportation bill failed to override the veto and the "lights on" bill passed.

While the "lights on" bill provides significant funding, it falls significantly short of what Urdahl originally voted for.

The "lights on" bill will provide $270 million less for our states trunk highway system than the bill Urdahl originally supported.

It will provide $162 million less for County State Aid for roads like County Road 6 from Howard Lake to Annandale.

It will provide $35 million less for Municipal State Aid, for roads like Wright County 125 near Cokato.

Transportation issues plague local governments, Urdahl knows this.

Despite that, Rep Dean Urdahl played politics with his vote to support the Governor's veto.

He says his vote sent a message to the Governor.
His vote also sent a message to Greater Minnesota and his constituents.
For 115 days, Rep Urdahl was silent.

He then chose to put politics before the people.

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