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Legislative Update #4: A New Met Council

03/10/2011

From Dave Van Hattum, Policy and Advocacy Program Manager

A new Met Council, appointed by Governor Dayton, officially took office on March 9. Susan Haigh, the Council’s new Chair, has appropriately focused on three top priorities:

  • transit investments,
  • affordable housing, and
  • economic development .  

The 16 new Council members, who presented their vision for the region at public interviews, were nearly unanimous in articulating these same priorities.

This Council needs to hit the ground running and be a strong and highly visible voice for maintaining operating funding for our current transit system AND continuing progress on the build-out of a regional system of transitways. TLC and allies recently met with Regional Administrator Pat Born and will be coordinating outreach to new Council members at various venues.

   LonaSchreiberJenniferMuntGaryVanEyll
Lona Schreiber, Jennifer Munt, and Gary Van Eyll, members of the new Metropolitan Council sworn in Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chair Haigh emphasizes that coordinating land use, transit, and housing investments can contribute significantly to economic development and job creation. We could not agree more, but would add that insuring the current commitment to transit investment sets the stage for spurring new jobs, increased tax revenues, and a more competitive economy that benefits all Minnesotans.  Transit puts people to work, gets people to work in an affordable manner, and returns $6 dollars for every dollar invested.

The Met Council plays a critical role in planning, funding, and operating our region’s transit system. As the federally required Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Council is responsible for long-term planning for the region’s transportation system. Metro Transit, which operates 90% of transit service in the region, is a division of the Met Council. And the Council can and should be a strong advocate for funding a 21-st century transit system. This involves securing funds to implement the vision in the long-range transportation plan (http://www.metrocouncil.org/planning/transportation/TPP/2010/TPPsummary.pdf) and working with the region’s Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) to allocate approximately $75 million per year in flexible federal funding for regional transportation initiatives.

We are encouraged by the transit and transportation knowledge, and community experience, of the new Council members. For example, Steve Elkins, the new Transportation Committee Chair and District 5 Council member, led efforts for innovative transit and land use planning while on Bloomington’ city council, chaired the I-494 Corridor Commission, and participated in the Minnesota Chapter of Transportation for America. New Council member Jennifer Munt is the Chair of TLC’s board and was public relations manager for the Hiawatha LRT planning and construction.

TLC looks forward to collaborating with (and nudging when necessary) all of the new members of the Met Council.

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