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 Response Page - Donahoe  Interview -      


These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Magaret Donaoe Interview of 01-20-2012
.
 

Overview

Margaret Donahoe, executive director, Minnesota Transportation Alliance argues that Minnesota is both failing to sufficiently maintain its roads and missing opportunities to invest in the infrastructure necessary for Minnesota to be competitive in future. Presently there is a gap of $1.5 billion/year between current state expenditures on roads and transit and the expenditures the Alliance believes are required for further growth. She identifies possible sources of additional revenue for additional transportation spending.

For the complete interview summary see: http://bit.ly/w7QyQg

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Donahoe. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. (7.0 average response) Transportation needs identified by the Minnesota Transportation Alliance appear reasonable and will require increases in state revenue.

2. Increase the gasoline tax. (7.3 average response) The state should increase the gasoline tax.

3. Increase registration fees. (6.4 average response) The state should increase annual vehicle registration fees.

4. Establish toll roads. (3.4 average response) The state should turn to toll roads.

5. Use sales or income taxes. (4.2 average response) The state should support increased spending for transit via sales or income taxes.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. (5.8 average response) A compilation of construction requests from transportation advocacy groups is an inadequate basis for considering revenue increases.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. (7.7 average response) The Governor and Legislature need a mechanism that sets realistic transportation priorities across modes (e.g. highways, railroads and transit), across vehicles of all sizes and shapes, and across units of government (e.g. state, regions, counties, and cities).

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary.

10%

3%

20%

35%

33%

40

2. Increase the gasoline tax.

10%

8%

8%

35%

40%

40

3. Increase registration fees.

10%

13%

20%

25%

33%

40

4. Establish toll roads.

38%

15%

18%

26%

3%

39

5. Use sales or income taxes.

33%

15%

15%

23%

13%

39

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates.

8%

28%

18%

28%

20%

40

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities.

8%

3%

13%

38%

40%

40

Individual Responses:

Pat Salzer (10) (2.5) (10) (0) (2.5) (5) (7.5)

Tom Spitznagle (5) (4) (6) (0) (6) (8) (9)

Michael Martens (0) (7.5) (7.5) (5) (2.5) (2.5) (10)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. The proposal completely ignores rail, barge and air freight.

3. Increase registration fees. Registration for trucks should be increased because they cause more damage. This would also (cause) enough companies to shift to rail and barge which are significantly more energy efficient than trucks.

5. Use sales or income taxes. There are already too many demands on revenue from sales and income taxes.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. All transportation projects have to be evaluated through the lens of how does this project fit in or does not fit in with all the other projects all levels of government are considering.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. Currently no level of government in Minnesota has a transportation policy for freight. Until the State and the Metro area have a transportation policy for freight, transportation planning is being done with one arm tied behind our back. I am very disappointed that the Civil Caucus did not raise this issue in the interview. The Caucus needs to interview RR people to find out why there is very little intermodal freight movement in Minnesota. The Caucus needs to interview barge people to find out what can be done to increase barge traffic and have barges move freight other than bulk commodities

Anonymous (10) (10) (5) (0) (0) (2.5) (7.5)

2. Increase the gasoline tax. There wasn't a reference to VMT (vehicle miles traveled), which I strongly oppose. There is no reason to pursue a new problematic revenue collection method when what is needed is simply more revenue. Gas/diesel guzzlers relate to other issues of pollution, health effects and military policy to protect access to foreign oil. Fuel-efficient vehicles do a great service to minimize these secondary issues (sales tax is paid on electricity, by the way). Bumping the tax at the pump is exactly the correct way to pay for the infrastructure that provides cheap fuels for the economy.

Conrad deFiebre (10) (10) (5) (7.5) (10) (5) (5)

2. Increase the gasoline tax. The final phase-in of the 2008 gas tax hike kicks in July 1. It won't return funding to 1988 levels. This has become a highly partisan issue, as demonstrated by the 20 years it took to raise the tax in the last go-round. Some kind of indexing -- to consumer prices, road construction and maintenance costs, fuel prices or average fuel economy -- should be enacted to avert further tax cuts on autopilot for economically vital infrastructure.

3. Increase registration fees. Not a good measure of use of highways.

4. Establish toll roads. More congestion pricing on congested Twin Cities "freeways" (which aren't actually free) is needed. As for traditional toll roads, the only feasible application is for brand new right of way.

5. Use sales or income taxes. Washington is moving away from transit funding, as seen in the U.S. House reauthorization bill. States will have to pick up the slack somehow.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. Much of this is already done via state and regional planning.

Ray Ayotte (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (7.5) (7.5)

Al Kokesch (7.5) (5) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (5)

Ken Smart (5) (0) (2.5) (0) (0) (10) (7.5)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. Although transportation needs are reasonable, it does not mean an increase in state revenue is needed. This is a fatal logic error in such thinking. For instance, stop funding light rail projects which not only take infrastructure dollars, but takes ongoing public operation subsidies of as much as 90% per rider. Eliminate the so-called "living wage" requirement for government projects - this would reduce infrastructure project costs by 20% allowing the state to complete 20% more projects.

2. Increase the gasoline tax. This would hurt the poorest Minnesotans the most. The poorest Minnesotans drive the oldest cars with the worst gas mileage and an increase in gas taxes would hurt them the most.

3. Increase registration fees. The additional revenue raised is so small it is not worth the angst/political capital to make such a move. This issue is the number one issue (on which) Jesse Ventura was elected governor.

4. Establish toll roads. Why? Gas taxes and vehicle registration fees (would be) sufficient if they were all dedicated to roads. The state legislature has diverted these funds to other projects, which is what has created the funding issue.

5. Use sales or income taxes. Minnesota is already one of the highest taxed states. I do not see political support for raising taxes.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. Obviously a biased system for funding requests.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. Need an ROI (Return on Investments) financial approach (so that) those projects that offer a real economic benefit get funded.

Bert LeMunyon (5) (7.5) (0) (2.5) (0) (7.5) (7.5)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. If the infrastructure needs are the sum of the different stakeholdersí requests, then the Alliance needs to do some analysis to identify any duplication and propose a needs budget that is lean and still gets the job done.

2. Increase the gasoline tax. Of all the different sources of increased revenue, this would be easiest to implement. For the average driver, who is used to fluctuating gas prices, a few cents per gallon would hardly be noticed. However, for fleets it would be more difficult to support.

4. Establish toll roads. Toll roads require a new bureaucracy just to collect tolls or additional infrastructure to install automatic toll collections.

5. Use sales or income taxes. Total taxes, i.e., federal/state/local in Minnesota are already among the highest in the USA. Any increases will chase people and jobs out of the state.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. See my response to Q. 1.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. We should evaluate the alternative of using the railroads to carry heavier loads instead of increasing the allowable loads on roads.

Dave Broden (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (2.5) (2.5) (10)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. The preparation of a comprehensive multimode transportation plan is very much on track and provided a complete framework from which statewide priorities can be established and funding allocated. The level of funding and the specific projects must be based on well thought out statewide process without local biases or metro-centric thinking. Funding the entire package may not be realistic but working from this plan can gain a true Minnesota transportation approach and support.

2. Increase the gasoline tax. Increase in State gas tax is a reasonable approach as long as gas tax is viewed as one component of multiple sources of transportation revenue--which must include motor vehicle ownership fee increases, mileage taxes, tolls etc.

3. Increase registration fees. See above.

4. Establish toll roads. Toll roads should be a consideration in selected areas provided they do not result in diversion of traffic to other routes, etc.

5. Use sales or income taxes. Sales or income taxes should be considered only for selected infrastructure items that relate to public safety, health, quality of life, and environment, etc. Should not be used for actual transportation.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. Advocacy groups play a critical lobbying role in support of actions by government. The roles must be however complemented by other groups and by effective state government agencies, policy, and legislative action as well as leaderhsip from business, labor, and the governor, etc.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. This simply comes down to leadership and good public policy.

John Mills (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (2.5) (2.5) (10)

Chris Brazelton (7.5) (10) (10) (0) (7.5) (7.5) (10)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. Some of the partners may have wish lists that are unrealistic given our economic and political climate.

2. Increase the gasoline tax. It has not kept up with inflation to cover the higher costs of maintenance and infrastructure needs.

3. Increase registration fees. The Ventura era reductions have crippled our ability to meet our maintenance and infrastructure needs.

4. Establish toll roads. They are a pain...

5. Use sales or income taxes. The goods purchased got to market using the transportation infrastructure, but I am concerned with the regressive nature of the sales tax, especially if it is added to necessities.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. The requests must be backed up with clear reasoning and fit into a long-range plan for the state.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. Rather than pit one group against another, a long-term bipartisan plan must be the starting point; then revenue issues can be addressed to support the agreed-upon plan.

Fritz Sobanja, Cook County Commissioner (10) (10) (5) (2.5) (7.5) (5) (7.5)

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. Good question. The needs should be based on

the condition of the roads, the volume of traffic (safety), and the connectivity to sources of raw materials/factories/markets.

Scott Halstead (10) (7.5) (10) (0) (0) (5) (7.5)

3. Increase registration fees. Registration fee (should) be calculated to include annual mileage driven, wear and tear on the roads, EPA mileage estimate (MPG).

5. Use sales or income taxes. There should be a metro area surcharge on income tax if you live outside of metro areas but are employed in a metro area.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. We need to utilize railroads with piggyback trucks for lengthy movement of more materials more extensively so that trucks are utilized more regionally and this will reduce maintenance on our highway system.

Peter Hennessey (2.5) (2.5) (2.5) (7.5) (0) (10) (2.5)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. There is no way to know that without seeing the numbers. Who says the needs are reasonable (and) by what standard?

2. Increase the gasoline tax. No. The state should stop raiding the highway fund. I don't know if this is a problem in Minnesota but it sure is a problem in other states and at the federal level. Also, the revenue projections shown in the presentation may seem reasonable to the advocate of a cause, but ignores the fact that when you raise taxes on something, people will use less of it, and therefore the hoped-for increase in revenue does not materialize. "If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less, tax it." -- RR

3. Increase registration fees. Why? Are the citizens of Minnesota not squeezed enough already? Why don't you declare proudly and forthrightly that you want to ban all private cars and want to force everyone into mass transit like we do in parts of Europe and Asia -- and see what kind of reaction you get from the public?

4. Establish toll roads. There is a certain elemental justice in the idea that the user of a benefit should pay for it.

5. Use sales or income taxes. Before you do that, examine the history of mass transit and mass transit financing in other jurisdictions. There is no end to the hunger of a mass transit system for more and more subsidies. Also consider the possibility that maybe the public does not want mass transit?

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. This sounds about as reasonable as appeasing a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. Apparently the proponents of this idea never heard of the private sector, or the countless historical examples that show that imposing a top-down solution never works.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm (7.5) (0) (7.5) (0) (0) (7.5) (0)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. This isn't the first time these issues have been identified. We need Minnesotaís largest cash crop to pay its share. Legalization of marijuana and hemp would cover most of this additional cost immediately with larger potentials down the road.

2. Increase the gasoline tax. The gas tax is especially regressive on the rural poor and elderly.

3. Increase registration fees. That would be passively acceptable.

4. Establish toll roads. We don't need to become another Illinious.

5. Use sales or income taxes. This disproportionately attacks poor Minnesotans again. Putting in a simple and fair tax system would go a long way toward solving this whole funding problem. A simple flat tax with no loopholes would allow the decision to be limited to what kind of an across-the-board tax percentage change was needed. End subsidies and loopholes; give us honest government for a change.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. We need an overview effort at MinnesotaDOT that can adequately determine the urgency of needs over wants.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. We have County Boards who can serve this purpose; we don't need another "Top Down", metro controlled, socialist effort.

Don Anderson (7.5) (7.5) (5) (0) (2.5) (5) (7.5)

2. Increase the gasoline tax. Increasing the gas tax would offset the increased mileage efficiency of automobiles.

4. Establish toll roads. People who normally don't use the interstate or state highways would be penalized disproportionately if they had to pay a toll when using the toll roads.

David G. Dillon (5) (7.5) (0) (7.5) (0) (10) (10)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. Certainly good transportation infrastructure is important to our economy and quality of life. We need to see a report from an unbiased and professional source such as McKinsey or Accenture.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. Certainly good transportation infrastructure is important to our economy and quality of life. We need to see a report from an unbiased and professional source such as McKinsey or Accenture.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. And, to state the often missed but obvious point, it needs to be a great plan. Not something a part time "blue ribbon" Governor's panel could do. (In addition to the fact that the Governor is always one of the two warring sides)

Ray Schmitz (0) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (0) (10) (10)

1. Needs reasonable; revenue increase necessary. This is pro group; they recognize the fact that build-out is complete, but then ignore that.

2. Increase the gasoline tax. Needs to keep pace with inflation of costs.

3. Increase registration fees. Scaled to vehicle costs miles traveled.

4. Establish toll roads. Silly not to; (toll roads would) capture the high mileage users who should pay more.

5. Use sales or income taxes. Hard to see (the) logic here. How are they related?

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. Like basing Christmas budget on toy catalog.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. Perhaps it is time to look to independent commission of some sort. See the federal base closing system for model. Gets the decisions out of the political arena.

Linda Loomis (10) (10) (10) (5) (5) (2.5) (0)

2. Increase the gasoline tax. The federal government should also increase the tax on gasoline as a matter of national security - as well as because of the needs of aging infrastructure.

4. Establish toll roads. I haven't entirely made up my mind on this yet; it should continue to be looked at.

5. Use sales or income taxes. I am also not sure on this yet. As the fleet continues to move away from gasoline-powered vehicles all source of revenue should remain on the table .

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. Too many transportation advocacy groups emphasize light rail to the detriment of other forms of transportation, while a few advocate entirely for roads. The answer is somewhere in the middle. Our culture must also change. Too many users of mass transit will ride a train (light rail) but would never think to get on a bus, and buses make much more sense, given the way most of our metropolitan areas have been developed.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. I think voters need to elect people that will put the good of the country, state, county, or city first and loyalty to a political party second. It is a sad state of affairs when mechanisms need to be put in place to tie the hands of our legislators so that they will do what is in the best interest of the people they were elected to represent.

R. C. Angevine (7.5) (7.5) (5) (0) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

2. Increase the gasoline tax. In a time where the price per gallon of gas is in the $3.50 (+/-) per gallon range, I think an increase of $0.05-0.10/gallon would hardly be noticed and would be appropriate.

5. Use sales or income taxes. I believe that we need to spend more on our transportation infrastructure and am willing to pay additional (tax) to make that happen. That said, we first need a clear plan of what needs to be done and how it would be accomplished before we start talking about how to raise an as yet undefined sum of money.

6. Revenue increases not justified by advocates. It is good input but we need a "master" plan.

7. Mechanism needed to set transportation priorities. Again -- we need a master plan that sets direction and defines required results.

Chuck Denny (10) (10) (10) (5) (0) (2.5) (10)

2. Increase the gasoline tax. Best method for non-commercial vehicles.

Alan Miller (8) (8) (2) (0) (7) (7) (9)

John Milton (10) (10) (10) (0) (10) (0) (5)

We fell behind with 8 years of Pawlenty's "no tax increases". Transportation is fundamental to economic growth. Policy should be determined by needs, not by Grover Norquist and Minnesota Taxpayers Assn. We've gone from Minnesota Miracle to Minnesota Mediocrity.

Al Quie (10) (10) (10) (0) (0) (0) (10)

The reason I put a zero on number 6 is that the Department of Transportation should be involved as well. Thirty years ago MnDOT did a study and told me (as Governor) that we would be in this mess in 30 years. It happened in 25 years. I tried to increase the gas tax and index it as a solution. The gas tax would have been 40 cents now. It is the inability of the legislature to look into the future rather than the next election that causes this problem.

Richard McGuire (8) (10) (10) (3) (10) (10) (10)

Chris Stedman (7) (7) (3) (8) (5) (4) (10)

Wayne Jennings (10) (10) (10) (1) (10) (4) (10)

We recently drove to and from Florida with a car. Generally interstate roads were good and that was much appreciated. Sometimes they werenít and that was uncomfortable and I could see how poor roads added to my carís maintenance costs. We pay one way or another. Minnesota transportation position for industry growth also needs attention. Without it, we pay again with becoming a backwater state. The way I see it, keep our transportation systems at a high level even though it costs a lot. It costs a lot in money, comfort and pride if we donít. I say, do it right.

Bert Press (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) (10) (0)

Arvonne Fraser (10) (10) (4) (1) (10) (4) (5)

And what about mass transit as well? Get people off the roads and on their feet and on buses and rails.

Jerry Fruin (8) (10) (8) (8) (5) (9) (8)

Chuck Lutz (9) (9) (9) (0) (9) (5) (10)

Tom Swain (10) (10) (10) (5) (8) (3) (5)

Robert J. Brown (5) (5) (5) (5) (5) (10) (10)

First set the realistic priorities and then talk about the level of taxes. Short-term greed has caused much of the problem we have now. Rather than transportation costs being part of the general state budget planning, the highway lobby wanted their own guaranteed source of revenue from motor vehicle taxes so they wouldn't have to compete with other public services for state funds. This worked well for them at first as those taxes generated more than was needed for transportation purposes, but they didn't want to share with other public purposes. Then a number of factors changed, and then the highway lobby wanted all their highway user funds plus money from the other taxes that were supposed to support other governmental functions. I remember when the sales tax was enacted Ö the highway lobby did want not to be a part of it, but rather wanted a flat number of cents per gallon on gasoline. Several things (were) wrong with that thinking: first, if they had gone along with the sales tax there would be an automatic increase in revenue as inflation raised the price of gasoline; thus they would not have to keep coming back to the legislature to change the amount of the tax per gallon. Second, they did not realize that revenue from the gas tax was dependent on demand which could rise and fall with the economy, mileage per gallon of cars, miles driven, etc.; and there was no consideration about changing modes of transportation requiring possibly different distribution of transportation tax revenues. The bottom line is that having dedicated taxes is bad public policy. In order to have good policy it is necessary for all areas of government to compete fairly for revenue based on the needs of the day. This could include bonding for capital improvements, but that bonding should take in consideration all of the state's needs when setting priorities, not just the needs of one interest group.

Roy Thompson (7) (7) (8) (5) (5) (5) (8)

Minnesota's location in the U.S. requires careful attention to transportation needs in relation to manufacturing as well as transit. The state is big, centrally located and with difficult climatic conditions.

Carolyn Ring (8) (8) (6) (na) (na) (6) (10)

There is no doubt infrastructure and added/alternative transportation methods are in great need. Funding should be a combination of sources. I hope the next legislature will be more realistic and not so rigid about no new taxes.

Shirley Heaton (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

I didnít respond since Iím unaware of the situation in Minnesota; however, my guess is that the matter is common to all states in the U.S., especially, here, in Florida. We seem to be always applying Band-Aid solutions to serious problems. And in a recent newspaper headline some guru predicted gas rates will be $20 per gallon in 10 years without including Ö the cost for keeping the infrastructure updated. Go figure.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (5) (6) (6) (6) (4) (4) (8)

William Kuisle (0) (0) (0) (8) (0) (10) (10)

The Transportation Alliance has always included "wants" in their "needs' list. We have never had an open discussion on what the real need is in this state for transportation.

Roger A. Wacek (5) (10) (10) (0) (0) (0) (10)

Paul and Ruth Hauge (8) (9) (8) (2) (8) (6) (9)

 

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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