The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 30, 2014

Let's ensure greatest value for transportation dollars

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has a keen interest in a sound transportation infrastructure (Free Press editorials, March 5 and 23). Our members depend on safe and efficient movement of people and products.

Our support was most clearly demonstrated in 2006 when the Minnesota Chamber led the “Vote Yes” campaign to dedicate the receipts of the motor vehicle sales tax to transportation. Again, in 2008, we played a key role in building support to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of the 10-year, $6.6 billion transportation funding plan.

We also want to make sure that our transportations dollars are being used as efficiently as possible.

We’re not alone in that thinking. The Transportation Strategic Management and Operations Task Force was established as part of the 2008 law to reflect that priority. We were encouraged by several of its recommendations released in 2009. But less than 10 years after passage of that significant funding increase, and with limited progress on efficient use of those dollars, there are calls for more funding.

In 2012, Gov. Mark Dayton’s Transportation Finance Advisory Committee said that in order to reach the state’s full funding needs for transportation, 15 percent of the funding should be found from efficiencies in highway and transit operations. We believe that is an appropriate figure.

We’re pleased to say that Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle also has embraced the 15-percent standard and is making progress. The business community is working closely with him to develop a plan to meet this target for both near-term and long-term operations.

Bentley Gravesdirector, transportation policyMinnesota Chamber of CommerceSt. Paul

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