Update: Bill passes 35-27!
Update (8pm): Senate passed amendment but is still debating the transportation finance bill.
Late this afternoon on the Senate floor, Senator Melisa Franzen (DFL) District 49, introduced an amendment to the transportation finance bill to phase in increases in both the metro area sales tax for transit and the gas tax. The amendment passed, dramatically reviving hopes for action this session on behalf of transportation needs statewide.
The amendment includes funding for transit (bus and rail), bicycling and walking projects, and road and bridge projects statewide. The bill, now through the Senate, if enacted would increase the regional sales tax for transit in all seven metro counties by 1/4 cent sales tax now, with 1/4 cent next biennium. The bill would also raise the gas tax by 2.5 cents now and 2.5 cent gas tax next biennium. The bill also increases funding for Greater Minnesota transit and safe routes to school.
All eyes turn next to the House-Senate conference committee.