Local lawmakers angry about transportation switch
WORTHINGTON -- "I'm mad, too," said District 22A Rep. Doug Magnus on Friday. "This just compounds the problem."
Magnus, R-Slayton, said he doesn't appreciate the transfer of $100 million in federal funds to Twin Cities transportation projects. And he is skeptical of assurances by the Minnesota Department of Transportation that funds to outstate projects will ultimately be restored. Magnus, who represents Pipestone, Murray and Rock Counties and part of Nobles County, said his constituents will be directly affected.
"They're taking some money from District 8 (containing Pipestone and Rock counties, and north to Willmar) and putting it into District 3 to do the Paynesville bypass. ... They haven't said if they're going to replace that down the road," Magnus said.
District 22B Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said he will join area lawmakers in pushing hard for the completion of Minnesota 60 during the next session, "whether it's bonding or otherwise." Hamilton promised he will "work it from multiple angles" to ensure outstate Minnesota gets its due.
Referring to the MnDOT transfer announcement, Hamilton said, "This is exactly why I voted against the transportation funding bill last session."
Hamilton said he took some heat for voting against the bill, but it was "disproportionally weighted for the metro areas."
Rural legislators have long felt the push-pull between metro and outstate transportation interests. Even before the announcement of the $100 million switch, Magnus said, outstate needs have been overlooked.
"We're getting an increase in federal funding from the state, but they're cutting the percentage going to rural areas," he said Friday, adding, "This is not a partisan problem between Republicans and Democrats. Both sides will probably try to blame each other, but it's a problem in transportation this state has, which is metro versus rural."
"We need to fight like crazy just to get what's rightfully ours," Hamilton said.
District 22 Sen. Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, was contacted Friday but was unavailable for comment.