For east metro transit fans, ‘someday’ never comes

“Your time will come.” That’s what residents in the Twin Cities’ east metro have been told for several years when they ask about getting a little more transit bling as they pony up their sales tax money for transit projects.

When is that time?

It’s a good question, the answer to which has been: “Not yet. Some day, though.”

On Monday, a Little Canada DFLer pushed a plan in the Senate that would require 40 percent of transit sales-tax revenue to be spent “where 40 percent of the people reside.” That’s the east metro.

That didn’t go over so well with the west metro, the Pioneer Press noted.

“If Hennepin County’s doing the heavy lifting here in terms of putting money into the system, it seems to me fair that Hennepin County reaps its proportional benefit,”(Sen. Ron) Latz said.

He supported an amendment to give Hennepin County a bigger share of taxes from leased vehicles. The formula devised by Dibble divided that lease revenue among metro counties based on their population but treated Ramsey County as 50 percent of its population and Hennepin County as 25 percent of its population to preserve more money for the less populous metro counties.

Latz and Bonoff suggested crediting Hennepin County with 50 percent of its population.

But majorities of the Senate approved the 40 percent goal for the east metro and rejected a higher share for Hennepin County. The voting broke down along geographic lines with almost all east-metro and west-metro lawmakers voting as blocs, regardless of party. But the decisive vote came from outstate senators, who disproportionately sided with the east metro.

The debate raised an important question: How can a regionally funded transportation system be … regional?

The Senate passed its transportation bill. It faces an uncertain future because the House, controlled by the GOP, does not favor a transportation plan based on an increase in taxes.