Bipartisan group calls for new transportation funds

Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, and other members of the "Purple Caucus" announced their session priorities. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

A bipartisan group of state Senators said today they support raising new revenue to fund transportation needs.

DFL and Republican members of the self-described “Purple Caucus” announced their first-ever list of shared legislative priorities.

On transportation, they said “additional dedicated funding” is needed for roads and bridges first, and for transit later. They did not name a source for that long-term funding.

Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, said using part of the nearly $1.9 billion budget surplus is not the complete solution. But he said it would help address a growing backlog of projects.

“There is an opportunity for us, if we prioritize our needs correctly, to provide a jump-start to some of that repair,” Weber said.

Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, said the caucus is working together to craft effective and responsible solutions.

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“I know when I listen to folks in my district, that’s what they want us to do, Kent said. “They want us not to be engaged in sort of traditional partisan tit-for-tat. They want us to really focus on the business of the people of the state of Minnesota.”

The group also wants to increase the basic K-12 education funding formula, and reduce unfunded mandates for public schools.

In addition, the lawmakers called for quick adoption of a package of improvements to the state’s child protection system.

The other members of the purple caucus are Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka; Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley; Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona; Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester; Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake; Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth; Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center; and Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato.